Last updated: 13 december, 2010 - 11:05 GMT

Community and Society

Power and the Judges

Depending where you are in the world, judges may command great respect or huge contempt.

Why are judges so important in today's world and how do the courts get and use their power?

The BBC's Laura Lynch meets senior judges to gain an insight into how much power they really have.

She asks how their independence and impartiality can be ensured, and whether they should ever have the authority to overrule laws made by democratically-elected politicians.

Part One

Judges in Hong Kong. AP

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What does it take for judges to stand up to pressure?

In part one, Laura Lynch hears from judges operating in Russia and Colombia.

From South Africa, Australia to America, she also looks at how judges' power has grown and evolved over the last 60 years.

First broadcast on 13 December, 2010

Part Two

Flags outside a Turkish court

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Laura Lynch reports from Turkey where the government - run by the AK political party - is trying to reform the judiciary, for its own reasons – and also to please the EU.

Many Turks have lost faith in their judges, who are seen as out of touch and too close to Ataturk's secular and military state.

What will determine this struggle for power between the government and judges?

First broadcast on 20 December, 2010

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