Combating Corruption

Combating Corruption

Legal Approaches to Supporting Good Governance and Integrity in Africa

John Hatchard

Drawing on numerous recent examples of good and bad practice from around the continent, this insightful volume explores the legal issues involved in developing and enhancing good governance and accountability within African states, as well as addressing the need for other states worldwide to demonstrate the ‘transnational political will’ to support these efforts.

Chapter 8: Judges: independence, integrity and accountability

John Hatchard

Subjects: development studies, law and development, economics and finance, economic crime and corruption, law - academic, corruption and economic crime, human rights, law and development, regulation and governance, politics and public policy, human rights


According to Herodotus, Sisamnes was a judge during the rule of King Cambyses II of Persia (529-522 BC). He accepted a bribe and later delivered an unjust verdict. As a result, the king had him arrested and flayed alive, his skin being used to cover the seat on which his son would later sit as his successor. A fate that may well have concentrated the mind of the son! In 1498 the Dutch painter Gerard David painted two panels: in the first, entitled Judgment of Cambyses, Judge Sisamnes is seen accepting the bribe while the second panel, entitled the Flaying of Sisamnes, graphically depicts the carrying out of the king's order. While supposedly showing events in 6th century BC Persia, the characters are in contemporary Flemish attire and the background is clearly 15th century Bruges: a strong indication as to the artist's view of the state of the judiciary in the city at that time. Today, such an artist might well attire their subject in the robes of a modern judge for judicial corruption is a seemingly perennial problem and is certainly not confined to African states. Thus while judicial independence is a constitutional necessity, it follows that having in place provisions designed to uphold judicial accountability and integrity are also key to combating corruption and supporting good governance. Realizing this in practice is the focus of this chapter.

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