Tuesday August 5 2014

Lower courts go digital

By ANTHONY WESAKA

KAMPALA.
A walk in any court registry will leave many court users thinking twice about the quality of services they will get from the corridors of justice. Piles of files are heaped on the floor, most caked in dust while the others show signs of tear and wear.

The irony is that these badly kept paper files are actually case files that help judicial officers record proceedings during court sessions.
With such record keeping, it comes as no surprise that sometimes, some court files are stolen or destroyed.

As part of the initiatives to clean up the registry, International Justice Mission (IJM) has come in handy to help the judiciary digitalise mainly the lower court registries and also equip court rooms with recording equipment to be on the same level with the high court and superior courts.

To that effect, Mukono Chief Magistrate’s Court as a pilot was last week installed with the digital recordings equipment both in the court room and registry.

Mr Paul Gadenya, the Chief Registrar who heads all the lower courts, observed that most courts especially magisterial courts rely on handwritten notes in capturing court proceedings, a scenario he described as tedious process.

This, he believes distracts the judge/ magistrate who concentrates on writing as opposed to studying the atmosphere in court and paying attention to details.

“The International Justice Mission (IJM) has come on board to help streamline court records to make it difficult to steal records, increase efficiency of the courts, increase access to the poor and vulnerable groups to court services. Mr Gadenya said last week
Mr Gadenya is optimistic that this new initiative will increase public confidence in the justice system, hence curbing petty corruption cases especially in registries.

He admits that registries are known for poor record keeping, with no disaster preparedness equipment in place yet paper is highly flammable.

Following the launch of the digitalized recording equipment at Mukono Court, Ms Rosette Musoke, the Justice Sustenance Support Specialist at IJM said that they will replicate the reforms in Mukono Court to other courts across the country.

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