Author: World Jurist Admin

The Rule of Law through the Educational System WLC Opening Session Dominican Republic

Chaired by Luis Henry Molina Peña, President of the Supreme Court of the Dominican Republic, the World Jurist Association celebrated the Opening Session Dominican Republic of the World Law Congress “Higher Education: A dialogue in the Market”, on January 19, 2021. The event focused on the need to promote the rule of law through the education system.

Javier Cremades, President of the World Jurist Association (WJA) and the World Law Foundation, opened the debate by calling for collaboration to “educate the population on the importance of the rule of law through all educational structures and thus ensure that the new generations of judges, prosecutors and jurists can have access to a coherent legal system”.

Along these lines, María Eugenia Gay, president of WJA Spain and dean of the Barcelona Bar Association, acknowledged that the education system at its highest levels has to provide students with the tools they need to perform their work in decent conditions, and added that we must ensure that we provide all the mechanisms to ensure that lack of experience is an intermediate stage between training and employment.

William Adams, Managing Director of Accreditation and Legal Education at the American Bar Association, emphasized that training around the rule of law will have a greater impact on higher education if it starts at the grassroots: “civics education in elementary schools was very common, it disappeared and now it is coming back into the curriculum, and I hope that the school boards start acknowledging that this is as necessary as it used to be.

For his part, Antonio García Padilla, president of the Puerto Rican Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation, coordinator and moderator of the panel, directed the debate towards the dichotomy that arises from the possibility of pursuing an entire law degree online, while there are countries that do not recognize the quality of a distance education. In fact, Joseph K. West, partner and head of diversity and inclusion at Duane Morris, insisted on the need to “be aware of how you are educating and what education you are providing, because schools need to focus on inclusion, as they have begun to understand what the real situation is in dealing with people.”

Maite D. Oronoz Rodríguez, president of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, emphasized that currently “we are training lawyers for the 20th century because, although the world has evolved, the judiciary has not evolved as fast”. She believes that it is “imperative to rethink the way we educate,” but acknowledged that “while it is true that technology facilitates justice and the search for truth, I am not sure that it makes a student complete with the needs that we will keep on having in courtrooms.” In this sense, as she pointed out, “the interpersonal intelligence and communication that occurs in an academic environment, in a classroom or in a courtroom, I don’t think is fully and completely achieved by a fully online preparation or education.”

Regarding the role technology is playing in the legal aspect, Luis Henry Molina Peña, president of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Dominican Republic, said that “the Internet has become an essential element that, until now, had only had an impact on the processing of paperwork. Now, it has transformed the operators of the administration of justice and has allowed citizens to get closer to justice, enabling them to have control over the provision of a service, for example, and providing them with greater transparency”.

Jaime Granados Peña, lawyer and university professor, specialist in criminal law, emphasized that the most difficult thing in the Colombian judicial system has been to understand that technology is not a threat, but a tool to achieve different circumstances: “they represent an opportunity to bring respect for the law closer to citizens and generate new possibilities for their rights to become a reality”.

This meeting is the sixth session prior to the World Congress of Law to be held in Colombia this year, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the Colombian constitution. Through the projection of an institutional video, the president of the host country, Iván Duque, has committed to “continue promoting the strength of the rule of law as fertile ground to allow growth and welfare, development and freedom of citizens” and has assured that “we will continue working to build a better future for all based on the strength and guarantees of the rule of law”.

Opening Session Strasbourg “International Protection of Families & Children”

In collaboration with the European Bars Federation (FBE), the World Jurist Association (WJA) celebrated on February 25, 2021 the Opening Session Strasbourg of the World Law Congress Colombia 2021, focused on the importance of the Rule of Law in protecting minors in vulnerable situations, while maintaining their human dignity. Javier Cremades, president of the WJA and the World Law Foundation, opened the webinar by emphasizing that this is a very important area for the society, acknowledging that “if the rule of law is anthropocentric, the protection of families and children is essential”.

Under the title “The International Protection of Families and Children”, María Eugenia Gay, president of the WJA Spain and dean of the Barcelona Bar Association, moderated this debate in which Silvia Giménez-Salinas, president of the FBE, assured that “from its beginnings, the protection of children provided the administration with the necessary speed to protect a child immediately in the face of abuse or negligence, as we cannot allow procedural deadlines to harm them”. Along these lines, she pointed out that “family law and the protection of children has advanced thanks to European regulations”. However, she acknowledged that each State has its own independent regulations and has its own family law.

The same situation occurs in the United States where family law is statutory: “There is no American divorce law, for example,” acknowledges Pamela M. Sloan, chair of the NYC Bar Association’s Matrimonial Law Committee and Council at the International Academy of Family Lawyers (IAFL), who assured that, during these processes, children are given a voice. “The lawyer’s job is to advocate for the interests of the child, they have a confidential relationship, and the child does not have to be present at court because the judge can question them outside,” she said.

For her part, Dominique Attias, first vice-president of the FBE, was concerned about the cause of ghost children and wanted to pay special attention to these minors who are not registered, since, as she pointed out, “every minor must be registered at birth to have a legal identity”. Adding that “children whose birth is not registered do not exist in the eyes of their country’s governments, complicating access to their rights, health and education, which could even be denied to them”.

International child abduction is another problem related to the protection of children. Ignacio Goicoechea, representative of the Regional Office of the Hague Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean (ROLAC), called for “less rhetoric and more effective protection” to solve this issue since, he stressed, “what children need is to be protected”. Carolina Marín Pedreño, vice-president of the IAFL and former president of the Westminster and Holborn Bar Association (UK), also referred to this issue, pointing out that “the Hague Convention is a very good instrument to comply with the need for a child to be returned to his or her country of origin after having been abducted”. In addition, she highlighted the training of lawyers and recognized that “on occasions, we see children who have not been returned because the parent has declared that he or she is not aware of the existence of treaties that solve the situation”. In this sense, Diana Hamade, a lawyer from the United Arab Emirates and member of the IAFL, pointed out that “in many countries there are deficiencies when a parent takes a child away and the child is not returned to the other parent”.

Regarding child marriage, Dilia Leticia Jorge Mera, Vice Minister of Innovation, Transparency and Citizen Services of the Dominican Republic, stated that “it is a real situation of violation of human rights, since child marriage is carried out without the consent of children and adolescents, who are coerced by their families or by the social environment around them”. She also pointed out that “Dominican Republic and Nicaragua occupy the first place in Latin America with 8,000 minor girls and teenagers married between 2001 and 2019”.

For Pakistani lawyer Sulema Jahangir, member of the IAFL, the global culture of justice and equality could be used in benefit of minors in Pakistan where “judges try to help families and advance laws that are fairer for women”. She also highlighted the goal “to improve the lives of hundreds of women and families in Muslim countries”.

For Daniela Horvitz, president of AIJUDEFA (International Association of Family Lawyers) and governor general of the IAFL, giving children, young people and families the protection needed, also implies “an imperative need to standardize basic principles in relation to family law”.

This meeting has served as preview of the family law topics that will be discussed during the World Law Congress Colombia 2021, which will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Colombian Constitution. Through the projection of an institutional video, the president of the host country, Iván Duque, has committed to “continue promoting the strength of the rule of law as fertile ground to allow growth and welfare, development and freedom of citizens” and has assured that “we will continue working to build a better future for all based on the strength and guarantees of the rule of law”. 

Sign the WJA Declaration on the Venezuelan Elections

The World Jurist Association presented an expert declaration written by more than 1,000 legal professionals from different countries denouncing that the December 6, 2020 parliamentary elections in Venezuela lack the necessary guarantees to be considered valid elections under the international law . According to this legal analysis, the elections, which have not been recognized by either the European Union or the Organization of American States, will be null and void.

(You may sign the Declaration HERE )

With this initiative, the WJA seeks to warn the world’s public opinion about Nicolas Maduro’s attempts to elect a new National Assembly through a call that does not meet the minimum democratic requirements. Today, after five years of disregard for the Assembly by an illegitimate executive, the elections convened will be held amidst evident signs of lack of transparency, and harassment towards the few unwelcomed candidates for the government. The signatories call attention to the fact that the Supreme Court of Justice, in contravention of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, appointed the five directors of the National Electoral Council, thereby permitting them to modify the electoral laws at their discretion.

The accusation raised by the WJA bears the support of jurists of outstanding prestige and international recognition such as Álvaro Rodríguez Bereijo, President Emeritus of the Spanish Constitutional Court, and writer of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights; Marie-Aimeé Peyron, President of the Paris Bar Association (2017-2019); Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Justice (2010-2014); Peter N. C. Umeadi, Professor and Justice Emeritus of the Anambra State Court, Nigeria; David Mills, Professor of Law at Stanford Law School; Augusto Trujillo, President of the Colombian Academy of Jurisprudence; and Katharina Miller, President of the European European Women Lawyers Association, among others. 

In like manner, Johann Kriegler, Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa until 2002, is a signatory to the document. Justice Kriegler was appointed in 1993 as Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, which conducted the first post-apartheid elections with real universal suffrage in his country. Nelson Mandela’s collaborator has stated, on the current Venezuelan process, that having seen how a dictatorship evolves towards democracy, today we are witnessing the steps taken by an old democracy towards the strengthening of a dictatorship. Kriegler is considered the world’s leading authority on electoral processes.

On the basis of the verified data and in the absence, in the upcoming Venezuelan elections, of the political and legal guarantees already outlined, which are necessary for an election to be regarded as free and democratic, the signatories of the Declaration hold that such elections are invalid and reject their celebration. Consequently, they hold that in order to guarantee the protection of human rights in the country, the legitimacy of the current Venezuelan National Assembly must be preserved until genuine free, inclusive and democratic elections are convened.

This declaration will be presented at the United Nations, the European Parliament and other International Institutions and Courts over the world to continue condemning this electoral fraud in Venezuela. Jurists from around the world are called to support the restoration of the Rule of Law in Venezuela. You may sign the Declaration HERE

READ THE WJA DECLARATION ON THE VENEZUELA ELECTIONS

To sign and support this Declaration CLICK HERE

LEA LA DECLARACIÓN DE LA WJA SOBRE LAS ELECCIONES VENEZUELA

Para firmar la Declaración CLIC HERE

Telework at the WLC Opening Session London

Inaugurated by the WJA President for UK, Christina Blacklaws, and Diego Solana, Coordinator of the World Law Congress Colombia 2021, the fifth Opening Session, celebrated from London on December 14, brought together Íñigo Sagardoy, Michael Burd, Renate Hornung-Draus, Daniel Funes de Rioja and Mbhazima Shilowa to discuss about teleworking.

Under the name “New ways of working and the future of work“, this new panel of dicussion focused on how current work trends should be regulated, the key factors for their transformation and the role each stakeholder should play in this field.

“In terms of work, this pandemic has changed everything, everywhere,” said Christina Blacklaws, President of WJA UK, immediate past President of the Law Society of England & Wales and President of Lawtech UK, who recognized that “we are now at the best possible moment to develop technological innovations that will change the way we deliver our services”. Blacklaws also shared data from a British study that “shows that the Covid-19 has accelerated the digital transformation by 5.3 years,” so that “we all know more about technology now than we did eight months ago”.

We are at the best time to learn technological innovations that will change the way we work

The debate began with the moderation of Iñigo Sagardoy, co-organizer of the event, president of Sagardoy Abogados and professor of labor law at the Universidad Francisco de Vitoria, who introduced the speakers after analyzing that “coronavirus has accelerated the transformation of organizations and we are at a turning point from which there will be significant regulatory changes in the ways in which companies are organized.

This scenario is confirmed by Renate Hornung-Draus, regional vice-president of the International Organization of Employers for Europe and Central Asia, who assured that “although the measures taken in most western countries to contain the pandemic have accelerated the digital transformation, they have also shown some deficits in the digital infrastructure, as well as its limits”. She advocates for a hybrid model of work with physical presence in the offices, in order to create corporate culture, but always respecting individual freedom. In this matter, she pointed out the difference between teleworking and mobile working, assuring that Germany has legislation on the former: “teleworking refers to a person working from home, it is at a distance, but in a fixed workplace; and it implies that there has to be an agreement between employee and employer by which the rules are respected”.

Michael Burd, head of the employment division at Lewis Silkim (London) and an expert in telework regulation, examined how labor regulation has evolved over the years: “what we see is that legislation and regulation are lagging behind the reality of work”, and acknowledged that “the feeling I have is that it has only increased with the evolution of technology, which is increasingly rapid, and has become more intense with the changes in work practices that have forced us all to change our way of working”. For this reason, and in the event that a worker remotely provides services from another country different from that of the company, he called for “legislation that contemplates key points, such as where to pay taxes, health insurance conditions, social security…” and concluded by recognizing “that local labor legislation in some cases complicates solving the global nature of this type of work”.

With regard to the regulation and negotiation of conditions, Daniel Funes de Rioja, vice president of the International Labor Organization and president of the Argentine Business Confederation, said that “unions must adapt to new realities and contemplate the changes from the perspective of the fourth industrial revolution, otherwise, if they continue thinking in terms of the second or third, technology will evolve without them and a gap will emerge”.

On this matter, Mbhazima Shilowa, former Secretary General of the Congress of South African Trade Unions and former Prime Minister of the South African province of Gauteng, set the current situation as a starting point “to find in the upcoming years better ways to combine different aspects such as, for example, the penetration of the Internet in all places”.

Social distance and flexibility are required, but this will not be possible without quickly resolving the social difference“.

Among the changes brought about by Covid-19, there is a debate about the vaccine and how it can affect workers’ relationship with their company. Michael Burd highlighted whether employers can demand their employees to be vaccinated or terminate them for not doing so.

Medical data is considered sensitive information and this will lead to searching for a balance between privacy and security for everyone… This is about protecting health at a collective level“.

The Opening Session London was the fifth preliminary session to the World Law Congress Colombia 2021, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the Colombian constitution. Through the projection of an institutional video, the president of the host country, Ivan Duque, has committed to “continue promoting the strengthening of the rule of law as fertile ground to allow growth and welfare, development and freedom of citizens”.

Por qué las elecciones en Venezuela no son válidas

Javier Cremades, abogado y Presidente de la World Jurist Association

Johann Kriegler*

Resulta paradójico que el mismo día que los españoles celebramos el cuadragésimo segundo aniversario de nuestra Carta Magna, sus principios democráticos y los valores de convivencia, en Venezuela tuvieron lugar unas elecciones fraudulentas y contrarias a Derecho convocadas por Nicolás Maduro. Esta calificación no es fruto de la mera reflexión de los juristas que aquí firman, sino del dictamen de más de 1000 juristas de 40 países. En efecto, la Asociación Mundial de Juristas (World Jurist Association), con sede en Washington, presentó el pasado viernes un dictamen en el que denunciamos que las elecciones parlamentarias en Venezuela carecen de las garantías necesarias contempladas en el derecho internacional para considerarlas unas elecciones válidas y ajustadas al Estado de Derecho. Por este motivo, esta votación no ha sido reconocido por la Unión Europea ni por la Organización de los Estados Americanos como un proceso electoral valido.

Este dictamen jurídico es una advertencia a toda la opinión pública mundial del fraude que intenta cometer Nicolás Maduro deshaciéndose de los molestos miembros de la Asamblea Nacional elegidos por el pueblo venezolano de forma legítima en el año 2015. Habiendo despreciado previamente sus funciones básicas, ahora el régimen de Nicolás Maduro directamente y al margen del pueblo venezolano pretende poner a sus más afines también en la Asamblea Nacional. Conforme concluye el dictamen internacional de juristas, esa votación está controlado exclusivamente por el ilegitimo poder ejecutivo e incumple las garantías básicas exigidas en el derecho internacional para calificarlas como válidas.

Ante la ausencia de protección de la seguridad personal y patrimonial de otros candidatos, sin unas normas claras para el ejercicio del derecho de voto o ante continuas lesiones a la libertad de asociación, reunión o expresión, unas elecciones infringen los derechos humanos y el derecho de sufragio. Y todas estas circunstancias concurren hoy en día en Venezuela. La constatación de esta situación se desprende de multitud de hechos recogidos en la Declaración Internacional de Juristas, de la que nos gustaría destacar los siguientes. El Tribunal Supremo de Justicia de Venezuela, controlado por Nicolás Maduro desde 2016, en violación de la propia Constitución Bolivariana permitió al Consejo Nacional Electoral modificar de forma arbitraria las leyes del proceso electoral y eliminar el voto universal, directo y secreto para la elección de los diputados representantes de los pueblos indígenas.

La declaración jurídica fue presentada en la casa de todos los abogados, el Consejo General de la Abogacía Española, en un acto en el que estuvieron presentes, entre otros, Marie-Aimeé Peyron, Presidenta del Colegio de Abogados de París (2017-2019), Viviane Reding, Vicepresidenta de la Comisión Europea y Comisaria de Justicia (2010-2014), Peter N.C. Umeadi, profesor y Magistrado Emérito de Nigeria, David Mills, Catedrático de Derecho de Stanford Law School o el Doctor Augusto Trujillo, Presidente de la Academia Colombiana de Jurisprudencia.

En compañía de Leopoldo López y el Presidente Juan Guaidó, particularmente significativa fue la intervención de la probablemente máxima autoridad mundial en procesos electorales, el Juez Kriegler. Como eminente jurista y magistrado sudafricano, fue Presidente de la Comisión Electoral Independiente en 1993 y garantizó en colaboración con Nelson Mandela las primeras elecciones con sufragio universal en su país. Como actor clave en la transición del dictatorial régimen del Apartheid de su país hacía una verdadera democracia, Johann Kriegler nos enseña que “hoy estamos asistiendo en Venezuela a la evolución de una antigua democracia hacía el reforzamiento de una dictadura”.

Sin entrar a valorar cuestiones políticas ajenas al análisis legal, lo cierto es que todos estos juristas concluimos que conforme a los datos contrastados y ante la ausencia de las garantías políticas y jurídicas básicas, la votación celebrada ayer en Venezuela es invalida y no puede calificarse como una elección democrática de los miembros de la Asamblea Nacional. Ante esta situación, la consecuencia legal es clara e implacable, la legitimidad de la actual Asamblea Nacional de Venezuela debe preservarse para garantizar la protección de los Derechos Humanos en el país. Y esta legitimidad deberá prorrogarse y mantenerse en el tiempo mientras en Venezuela no puedan celebrarse unas elecciones libres y respetuosas con los principios generales de la democracia y la Declaración Universal de Derechos Humanos.

*Magistrado Emérito del Tribunal Constitucional de Sudáfrica y Presidente de la Comisión Electoral Independiente de 1993

Related links:

Por qué las elecciones en Venezuela no son válidas (ElNacional.com)

Por qué las elecciones en Venezuela no son válidas (El Español)

¿Por qué las elecciones en Venezuela no son válidas? (ElTiempo.com)

Opening Session Washington: “Human Rights and Justice”

On November 12, the WJA celebrated the fourth Opening Session of the World Law Congress Colombia 2021 from the Headquarters of the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C.

“We are far from a reality where human rights are protected in real time, and there is a long way ahead to guarantee effective mechanisms”.  This is how the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, assessed the current situation in the debate “Human Rights and Justice: Fundamental Pillars for the Strengthening of Democratic Systems“. Almagro recognized that “political systems have to be structured in the best way to make justice work in societies, and this is the independence of power”.  He also pointed out that “the main problem of democracy is impunity, a red line that separates it from dictatorship.

Tamara Sujú, WJA Representative before the International Criminal Court and director of the CASLA Institute, chaired the panel and highlighted its importance, assuring that “respect for human rights and justice tells us when democracy degenerates into dictatorial government”, and she bet on universal justice to denounce the crimes of Latin American dictatorships.

In this direction, the former president of Colombia, Álvaro Uribe Vélez, highlighted how tyrannies are detrimental to justice in the Latin American region and assured that “in this area everyone talks about human rights, but for many it is an electoral ploy”. He added, furthermore, that “we must be careful to avoid people who do not really believe in human rights from reaching power, since not everyone can defend human rights”.

Regarding the situation in Latin America, Dita Charanzová, Vice President of the European Parliament, highlighted the fundamental role played by international institutions against countries that violate human rights and highlighted the action of the European Parliament, which, she said, has openly supported investigations into crimes against humanity. In this sense, she requested “that the international community continue to speak out in order to continue rejecting dictatorships and, thus, achieve the absolute reestablishment of human rights in those Latin American countries subject to these regimes”.

Meanwhile, Karen Longaric, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bolivia, emphasized that “only when the rule of law is solid, the justice system is independent” and noted that “even when governments emerge from elections or votes, they can have dictatorial and totalitarian characteristics”. Regarding justice, she stressed that it “does not exist in times of dictatorship, because the judicial body and the Public Prosecutor’s Office are obsequious with dictators” and she questioned the role of international human rights organizations since, she assured, “they have a role to play in protecting human rights, but some of them do not work or do so poorly because they have a biased view towards judging or appreciating human rights violations”.

Javier Cremades, president of the World Jurist Association, concluded the panel alleging that “there is no assured peace if there is no submission to the law” and stated that “human rights are there so each person can live their life with dignity and see all their objective value recognized”.

This Opening Session was the fourth meeting preceding the World Law Congress to be held in Colombia in 2021. The President of the host country, Iván Duque, also participated in this session, and through the projection of an institutional video he committed himself to “continue promoting the strength of the rule of law as fertile ground to allow growth and well-being, development and freedom for citizens” and assured that “we will continue working to build a better future for all, based on the strength and guarantees of the rule of law”.