Meeting focusses on building stronger judicial networks

Fadley Faisal

The special value of the Council of Association of Southeast Asian Nations Chiefs (CACJ) lies in the commitment and concrete efforts by ASEAN member states, adding that bolstering cooperation can bring about benefits in revitalising trade and investment.

This was said by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Brunei Darussalam Dato Seri Paduka Steven Chong in his opening remarks at the 8th CACJ Meeting yesterday.

The annual meeting convened virtually under the chairmanship of Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Nguyen Hoa Binh, attended by chief justices from judiciaries in ASEAN.

Chief Justice Dato Seri Paduka Steven Chong said, “In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, CACJ and ASEAN, as a whole, have been resilient and are able to continue their work largely uninterrupted. This underscores the strength of the links amongst our nations and is a demonstration of our commitment and solidarity in regional cooperation.

“In a post COVID-19 world, we must continue to work together to build stronger judicial networks and to strengthen the ties amongst ourselves, to ensure a robust and sustainable recovery for all.”

The CACJ deliberated on reports submitted on the progress of the working groups tasked with implementing initiatives or projects, such as the ASEAN Judiciaries Portal (AJP), facilitating civil processes within ASEAN, case management and court technology, judicial education and training, and cross-border disputes involving children.

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Brunei Darussalam Dato Seri Paduka Steven Chong during the virtual meeting. PHOTO: SUPREME COURT OF BRUNEI DARUSSALAM

The CACJ also acknowledged the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the peoples and economies, and each ASEAN judiciary was invited to share its experiences in managing the judicial system during the global health crisis.

Dato Seri Paduka Steven Chong suggested several initiatives for the CACJ to take on, “To consider having ‘legal’ and/or ‘judicial cooperation’ formalised as part of the next ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation Work Plan in 2023 and advancing our cooperation in strategic and priority areas, together with the ASEAN Plus Three nations, China, Japan and South Korea; to consider expanding the breath of the information available on the ASEAN Judiciaries Portal (AJP) to include matters involving cross border issues such as family matters and civil processes in order to promote greater access to justice; and to encourage greater collaborative effort in the sharing of information and knowledge in each ASEAN judiciary’s response to COVID-19, so that we can build a shared understanding of what the world and our justice systems will look like after the pandemic.”

The CACJ provides a regular forum for the chief justices to discuss and exchange views on common issues facing the ASEAN judiciaries, as a platform to promote close relations and build mutual understanding among the ASEAN judiciaries.

The CACJ also facilitates judicial cooperation and collaboration, to enhance economic growth and development in ASEAN. It aims to strengthen partnerships among ASEAN judiciaries and uphold the rule of law within and across ASEAN, in the spirit of institutional independence and principled partnerships.

Accredited as the ASEAN Charter, the CACJ endorses and supports the purposes and principles of ASEAN and the ASEAN community, in particular adherence to the rule of law, and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Judicial Commissioner of the Supreme Court of Brunei Darussalam Haji Abdullah Soefri bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin, together with judges and judicial officers, were also present.