Courts turn to technology to end backlogs
Posted Monday, June 4 2012 at 22:30
The Judiciary is gearing up for a new kind of justice: telejustice. This is a type of justice that is delivered with the aid of information technology.
The system will see judicial officers and litigants interact without necessarily being present in a courtroom.
The Judiciary Transformation Framework, a new strategic plan launched by Chief Justice Willy Mutunga on Thursday last week, has underscored the importance of this latest kind of justice that is expected to ease the congestion common in courts.
The current congestion is brought about by the necessity of having everyone involved in a particular case present during the hearings or on the judgment day.
In order to achieve telejustice, audio and video conferencing tools must be installed in the courtrooms, which is an expensive.
However, the Judiciary is determined to overcome the challenge and achieve its objective.
Witnesses, judges or any other officer involved in a case but in a different location could participate through a connected video or audio link and make contributions.
To realise this, court officers would have to be trained to acquire the necessary skills to participate fully in dispensing this form of justice.
Money should not be an issue as the Judiciary, as an independent institution, now has a fund that is expected to finance its projects. In the past, the institution was underfunded.
With the Judiciary’s new information and communication technology policy, which is currently being prepared, expected to be in place soon as promised by Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Gladys Shollei, the arm of government would be much ready to fly with technological advancements.
It is not only the technology-supported justice that is on the way.
There are other monumental projects the new Judiciary, as it has branded itself, is seeking to achieve in the next four years.
Most of them go towards infrastructural development in a bid to make the courts friendlier, more accessible to users and warmer for judges and magistrates to deliver justice.
To curb corruption, the menace that has plagued the Judiciary for long, a corruption prevention strategy as well as other integrity assurance mechanisms would be put in place.
Performance of judicial officers would also be regularly measured through various performance criteria.
The Judiciary Training Institute, established in 2008 to “offer education and training to staff involved in the administration of justice and train judicial officers on better methods of service delivery and use of computers and information technology”, is to be restructured with a clear organisational structure to make it robust.
The Judiciary is set for a major operational shift following the launch of the plan.