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Background

Gender and the Judiciary: The Implications of Gender within the Judiciary of Bosnia and Herzegovina

authors

Majda Halilović, Heather Huhtanen

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Abstract

There is arguably no other field where the importance of fairness and impartiality are so intrinsically linked to institutional effectiveness and credibility as in the case of the judiciary. Indeed, court systems the world over have the central responsibility of even-handedly dispensing justice in order to establish, maintain and enforce the rule of law.

This research explored the intersection between the gender related opinions, attitudes and beliefs of legal professionals in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and whether those same gender-based opinions, attitudes and beliefs could be linked to either advantaging or disadvantaging women or men within the court system. In other words, the research sought to identify whether the influence of gender was undermining the fairness and impartiality of the BiH judiciary.

This publication includes chapters on the research methodology and a comprehensive international literature review on topics including the role of gender within the judiciary, and the phenomenon of gender bias within courts systems. The remaining chapters of the publication reveal and analyze the findings of primary research conducted in BiH in 2013. The research explored three areas:

  • Collegial relationships and courthouse atmosphere, including how court and judicial professionals interact with each other and refer to each other.
  • Substantive legal topics, including determinations of child custody, domestic and sexual violence sentencing , and perceptions of victim and witness credibility.
  • Material support, including physical infrastructure such as the availability of childcare services and technology to support video-link hearings.

The report concludes by outlining identified best practices to mitigate the influence of gender (bias) and additionally provided specific recommendations to promote gender equality within the context of the BiH judiciary.