New ICJ guidance on videoconferencing, courts & COVID-19

The CMJA has received the following information from the ICJ’s Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

The ICJ’s Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers has published a briefing note on the use of videoconferencing in judicial proceedings, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The briefing note recognizes the challenges faced by judiciaries in balancing the right to health of judges and others involved in court proceedings, with the fundamental role of the judiciary in securing access to justice, legal protection of human rights, and the rule of law.

It sets out a series of recommendations based on an analysis of relevant provisions of treaties and other international instruments, as well as international and regional jurisprudence.

While encouraging judiciaries and other authorities to seek to ensure availability of videoconferencing capabilities for litigants who voluntarily choose to use it, as well as in certain other circumstances, the guidance also highlights limits on the non-consensual imposition of videoconferencing on certain kinds of hearings, particularly criminal trials and judicial review of deprivation of liberty.

Among the topics covered are the following:

  • ensuring public access to proceedings conducted by video conference;
  • the scope for videoconferencing in criminal proceedings, and the particular issues with its use in criminal trials;
  • serious concerns with non-consensual imposition of videoconferencing for the judicial review of deprivation of liberty;
  • essential considerations for ensuring the right to a lawyer in any use of videoconferencing.

The Briefing Note on Videoconferencing can be downloaded at the following link:

Universal-videoconferencing courts and covid-Advocacy-2020-ENG

More general guidance on the Courts and COVID-19 is also available here.

For more information, contact Matt Pollard, CIJL Director, at: matt.pollard@icj.org