DIGITISING JUSTICE

Only four courts without internet - Maraga

CJ says they will be connected in the course of this financial year

In Summary
  • Out of 132 courts in the country, 128 have reliable internet connection
  • Judiciary has developed and deployed a case tracking system to monitor progress
Chief Justice David Maraga, Judiciary Training Institute director Justice Kathurima M'Inoti and Deputy Chief Justice Philemona Mwilu at Whitesands Beach Hotel on Monday, August 19
JUDGES COLLOQUIUM: Chief Justice David Maraga, Judiciary Training Institute director Justice Kathurima M'Inoti and Deputy Chief Justice Philemona Mwilu at Whitesands Beach Hotel on Monday, August 19
Image: BRIAN OTIENO

The Judiciary is about to complete digitising its key processes despite funding difficulties.

Out of the 132 courts in the country, 128 have reliable internet connectivity.

“We only have four courts in extremely remote areas which have neither electricity nor internet connectivity but we aim to have them connected in the course of this financial year,” Chief Justice David Maraga said on Monday.

 

Speaking at the 2019 judges colloquium at Whitesands Beach Hotel in Mombasa, Maraga said connectivity is essential in modernising operations at the Judiciary.

The Judiciary hopes to fully migrate to the government national fibre optic backbone (NOFBI) in the current financial year.

This will be done in partnership with CS Joe Mucheru’s ICT ministry.

“Technology is now everywhere and Judiciary cannot afford to be left behind,” Maraga said.

The Judiciary intends to take advantage of universal connectivity to vigorously pursue other elements of digitisation such as replacing the archaic, time-consuming tradition of handwritten notes with digital court recording and transcription.

This system will be initiated in 32 courtrooms around the country.

“Six of these will be ready by next month for this great innovation while the other 26 are undergoing the procurement process,” Maraga said.

 

The Supreme Court president said they are currently engaging the government’s AJIRA programme to provide an efficient transcription solution that will also benefit Kenyan youth by offering them online jobs.

The Judiciary has developed and deployed a case tracking system (CTS) to monitor and manage the progress of cases.

This year alone the CTS has been used to track over 400,000 ongoing cases in 49 out of 132 court stations.

“With the marginally improved funding that we have received this year, we will be expanding the case tracking system to cover all our courts,” the CJ said.

This will include an SMS-based information facility for citizens who will only need to send a message to the Judiciary short code 22490 to be updated about their cases.

Maraga said they have already engaged a legislative drafter, through the support of development partners, to draft practice directions, revised rules and amendment of laws to facilitate adoption of technology in the courts.

“You must therefore be ready for this. To assist you in this regard, we have budgeted to provide computers and laptops to those of you who don’t have them,” Maraga told the judges.

He however said the process is necessary so as to deal with the case backlog once and for all.

“The backlog has given us anxiety. The whole idea is to finalise cases as quickly as possible so that we don’t tie funds in litigation that should go into circulation,” he said.