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Judicial independence is not just an abstract principle that systems of government ensuring the rule of law must adhere to. It is also a concrete standard, set out in binding (as well as in some non-binding) human rights documents and enforced by human rights courts all over the world. These multiple human rights documents and human rights courts have developed legal norms relating to judicial independence but in doing so, have they taken the shaky nature of the assumption that individuals and institutions can exert true agency, uninfluenced by their environments, into account? The aim of this book is to address this by studying the very particular issue of the effect of the frames employed in print news media on judicial independence. The research question is whether the print news media’s framing of the practice of waterboarding influenced judicial opinions of this practice and if so, did this influence compromise judicial independence as defined in international human rights documents?
The author concludes that the current protections offered by international human rights law against undue influence from the media on the judicial process are insufficient. Although these standards do address the media, they unfortunately do not take into account the influence the media can have in shaping perceptions of law and fact that can affect how judges rule in individual cases. Moreover, these standards do not adequately deal with the potential use of the media by the government or actors in the private sector in an intentional attempt to reduce judicial independence. Although it may be the case that humans may never achieve complete autonomy from the social structure, improvements upon the current state of affairs are possible. The author proposes that certain safe guards can mitigate the negative effects this process can have on the rule of law and the fundamental human right to a fair trial.