Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 2

Public Accountability Related Abstracts

2 'Explainable Artificial Intelligence' and Reasons for Judicial Decisions: Why Justifications and Not Just Explanations May Be Required

Authors: Jacquelyn Burkell, Jane Bailey


Artificial intelligence (AI) solutions deployed within the justice system face the critical task of providing acceptable explanations for decisions or actions. These explanations must satisfy the joint criteria of public and professional accountability, taking into account the perspectives and requirements of multiple stakeholders, including judges, lawyers, parties, witnesses, and the general public. This research project analyzes and integrates two existing literature on explanations in order to propose guidelines for explainable AI in the justice system. Specifically, we review three bodies of literature: (i) explanations of the purpose and function of 'explainable AI'; (ii) the relevant case law, judicial commentary and legal literature focused on the form and function of reasons for judicial decisions; and (iii) the literature focused on the psychological and sociological functions of these reasons for judicial decisions from the perspective of the public. Our research suggests that while judicial ‘reasons’ (arguably accurate descriptions of the decision-making process and factors) do serve similar explanatory functions as those identified in the literature on 'explainable AI', they also serve an important ‘justification’ function (post hoc constructions that justify the decision that was reached). Further, members of the public are also looking for both justification and explanation in reasons for judicial decisions, and that the absence of either feature is likely to contribute to diminished public confidence in the legal system. Therefore, artificially automated judicial decision-making systems that simply attempt to document the process of decision-making are unlikely in many cases to be useful to and accepted within the justice system. Instead, these systems should focus on the post-hoc articulation of principles and precedents that support the decision or action, especially in cases where legal subjects’ fundamental rights and liberties are at stake.

Keywords: Explanation, Justification, Public Accountability, explainable ai, judicial reasons

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1 Enhancement of Accountability within the South African Public Sector: Knowledge Gained from the Jackie Selebi Case

Authors: Y. Nanabhay


This paper scrutinizes the literature on accountability and nonaccountability and then presents an analysis of a South African case which demonstrated consequences of a lack of accountability. Ethical conduct displayed by members of the public sector is integral to creating a sustainable democratic government, which upholds the constitutional tenets of accountability, transparency, and professional ethicality. Furthermore, a true constitutional democracy emphasises and advocates the notion of service leadership that nurtures public participation and engages with citizens in a positive manner. Ethical conduct in the public sector earns public trust; it is hence a key principle in good governance. Yet, in the years since the advent of democracy in South Africa, the government has been plagued by rampant corruption and maladministration by public officials and politicians in leadership positions. The external control measures passed by government in an attempt to ensure ethicality and accountability within the public sector include codes of ethics, rules of conduct and the enactment of legislation. These are intended to shape the mindset of members of the public sector, with the ultimate aim of an efficient, effective, ethical, responsive, and accountable public service. The purpose of the paper is to analyse internal control systems and accountability within the public sector and to present reasons for nonaccountability by means of a selected case study. The selected case study is the corruption trial of Jackie Selebi, who served as National Commissioner of the South African Police Service but was dismissed from the post. The reasons for non-accountability in the public sector, as well as recommendations based on the findings to enhance accountability, will be undertaken. The case study demonstrates the experience and impact of corruption and/or maladministration, as a result of a lack of accountability, which has contributed to the increasing loss of confidence in political leadership in the country as elsewhere in the world. The literature is applied to the rise and fall of Jackie Selebi, erstwhile National Commissioner of the South African Police Service and President of Interpol, as a case study of nonaccountability.

Keywords: Corruption, Public Sector, Internal control, Public Accountability, maladministration, non-compliance, oversight mechanisms

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