Courts adopt bench book’ to ensure equality
Island courts have adopted new guidelines in a bid to ensure equality.
The bench book is intended to equip the courts to deal with cases where a person’s differences could put them at a disadvantage.
A spokeswoman for the court service said: “Traditionally, it was assumed that treating persons appearing in court equally simply meant that justice had to close its eyes to people’s differences. That principle is still valid in general terms today.”
But she added: “Judicial officers must not be prejudiced against litigants or witnesses because of, for instance, their personal characteristics, be they race or religion, physical or mental disability, age, language or sexual orientation.
“However, it is now recognised that judges managing cases must sometimes actually recognise the differences of persons appearing before the courts where a person’s unique characteristics make it difficult for them to participate on a level playing field in the court process.”
Chief Justice Ian Kawaley said he was proud to announce the publication of the bench book and its adoption by Bermuda’s Judiciary.
He said the book was designed to make sure that the courts were a “safe space” where people would not hesitate to disclose problems so they can get appropriate judicial support.
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