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Karma Tshering
University of Queensland

The proposed presentation relates to one of the theoretical frameworks of the PhD thesis. The presentation will seek to explore the ideological influence of Gross National Happiness (GNH) on the administration of the criminal justice system in Bhutan, with a special focus on self-representation by criminal defendants (SRLs). The presentation will use the development philosophy of GNH to examine the ensuing role and duty of the courts in Bhutan to ensure a fair trial for SRLs as well as to create enabling conditions for happiness for SRLs and other stakeholders of the criminal justice system, including the judicial officials. It will argue that the judiciary must also manage litigants, including SRLs to ensure a fair trial as a part of its role of dispassionately adjudicating cases, and they should facilitate and contribute towards the attainment of Bhutan’s national aspiration of authentic collective happiness. By doing so, it will fundamentally argue that GNH could also offer a middle path to the effective administration of justice by providing a normative orientation to the judiciary and inspiring and encouraging it to reconsider its conventional justice delivery framework.

Karma Tshering is a PhD candidate at the T C Bernie School of Law, University of Queensland. Karma’s PhD examines self-represented defendants in criminal trials in Bhutan through a comparative assessment of Australian experiences. The research investigates how self-represented criminal defendants are managed in Australia, and explores how self-representation in criminal  trials in Bhutan might be managed to ensure a fair trial. Karma completed a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Legislative Law Honours at the NALSAR University of Law, India, a Master of Arts HSG in International Law at the University of St Gallen, Switzerland, and a Postgraduate Diploma in National Law at the Royal Institute of Management, Bhutan. He joined the civil service of Bhutan as a qualified lawyer and worked with the Judiciary for over six years as a Court Registrar. His research interests include criminal justice, court process, governance and law reform.

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