Last June 13, 2016, the Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC) facilitated a round-table discussion for the “Hustisya Natin: Empowered Civil Society Participation in Monitoring Judicial and Quasi-Judicial Bodies Towards Enhanced Integrity of the Justice System” at the Blue Room, Ateneo Professional Schools Building. The project aims to enhance the integrity of the Philippine justice system by creating a monitoring system that would allow all stakeholders to check and balance the accountability, transparency, and performance of the courts and quasi-judicial bodies. The integrated system will involve the participation of the citizens through civil society organizations (CSO) to ensure the proper conduct of justice administrators, observance of legal and ethical rules, and appropriate management and use of funds.
To achieve this goal, the project will implement the following activities: (1) Local monitoring of judicial and quasi-judicial bodies, a national monitoring that enables the coverage of both general and specific concerns of the performance of the judicial and quasi-judicial bodies from appointments to budgets and cases; (2) Expanded Supreme Court Appointments Watch (SCAW), extends the monitoring of appointments to lower courts; (3) Judicial web channel and Philippine Judicial Portal, a website and web channel for the public to follow judicial proceeding of selected cases through webcasts and livestream, information dissemination, and online resource, “Judicial Philosophy Database”; (4) SC justices’ judicial philosophy monitoring, matrixing and reporting, a panel composed of experts of the law whom will determine the judicial philosophies which incumbent justices may be measured; and (5) Monitoring of Special Cases, a network that will specifically focus on special cases under the environmental, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, and torture cases and as well as high-profile cases.
As an initial step in developing the monitoring mechanism, this round-table discussion with various key justice institutions and other stakeholders who have been involved in monitoring the justice system was organized. Representatives from the Public Attorney’s Office, Philippine Judicial Academy, Regional Trial Court, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Supreme Court, The Asia Foundation, ABA Rule of Law Initiative, Governance and Justice (GOJUST), Philippine Alliance of Human Rights (PAHRA), and Alternative Law Groups (ALG) shared best practices and challenges from previous and existing monitoring efforts. From the data gathered from this activity, AHRC will then prepare a draft monitoring toolkit and present it to local formation areas and consult communities to further develop it. The monitoring of courts is targeted to begin on 2017.
The project is supported by the European Union and implemented in partnership with ALG, PAHRA, Journalism for Nation Building Foundation (JNBF), Lawyers’ League for Liberty (LIBERTAS), and Transparency and Accountability Network (TAN).