Theme 5: Role of the Judiciary and Law Enforcement
The reform of the legal system is recognized as an essential component of good governance.
Recently some Arab countries have initiated the review of existing laws with a view
to modernizing those laws that govern business transactions, civil affairs and human
rights and the rights of women in particular. The objective is to weed out archaic
and unnecessary laws and replace them with new laws that correspond to international
standards. Globalization and the shift to market economy by most Arab countries
have necessitated the introduction of new laws to facilitate the management of national
economy, provide needed protection of private investment, both domestic and foreign,
privatize public enterprises and respect and apply international conventions.
The reform however, should include more than just legal review and modernization.
There are other important ingredients in the reform process. These include: the
system of litigation, access to justice, safeguarding human rights in investigation
and prosecution, modernizing the courts, introducing and utilizing information technology
to increase transparency and facilitate access to information, the renovation of
knowledge both for judges and magistrates, the training of court staff and administrative
assistants. The issues of remuneration for judges, the enhancement of integrity
and accountability and above all the independence of the judiciary, all need to
be addressed if the reform is to take roots.
The ability to enforce the laws is another dimension of legal reform. Many laws
remain dead letters for a number of reasons, including the lack of participation
and consultation with key stakeholders. The gap between legal pronouncements and
enforcement remains wide. The enforcement machinery may need to be overhauled and
re-quipped with new tools, knowledge and skills. Integrity, transparency and accountability
need to be ingrained into the enforcement process to increase credibility, instill
the respect of the judiciary in Arab countries. The veracity of the legal system,
the integrity, transparency and speed of litigation and the capacity for enforcing
judgments are essential areas in the investor's assessment of the business environment.