Justice ministers from across Europe have given their backing to the Council of Europe’s new 2016-2021 action plan on strengthening judicial independence and impartiality. At a conference held in Sofia, justice ministers and representatives of the judiciary agreed to take the necessary steps to implement the plan.
Geoffrey Vos addressed the conference on the topic of protecting the independence of individual judges and ensuring their impartiality. In his speech he highlighted some of the outcomes of the project on Independence and Accountability in which the ENCJ has identified the indicators and the challenges to independence and accountability. He stressed that the executive in all countries needs to have a clear understanding of what judicial independence and accountability entail. In return, judges, need to realise that the concept of judicial independence is not an absolute one. They are responsible for the effective delivery of justice, and that is a great responsibility. To achieve it, they must work with their governments to provide what is imperative in every democratic state – a fair and impartial decision making process, in which citizens from all parts of society and the state itself has absolute confidence.