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Courts adopt technology to fight backlog of cases

By | April 6th 2010 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

By James Ratemo

Court of Appeal Judges will no longer need to crisscross the country to handle appeals cases as this can be now done online.

The tele-presence technology spearheaded by Cisco Systems, an international technology solutions firm, has interconnected the Nairobi and Mombasa courts of appeal.

This is part of the ongoing automation and online interconnection process within the Government.

This essentially means that backlog of cases and the need for judges to roam the country to listen to lawyers will be a thing of the past.

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Delegates at the just-concluded ICT conference in Mombasa. Digitisation of operations in the Government will cut down costs and save money for other services. Photo: James Ratemo/Standard

The Court of Appeal is situated in Nairobi, but it periodically holds its sessions in Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Nyeri and Eldoret. It’s estimated that the sessions, commonly known as circuits, cost millions of shillings annually but this is bound to change.

Dr Bitange Ndemo, whose Ministry of Information is spearheading the changes in conjunction with Cisco, revealed that there are plans to extend use of the technology to lower courts to avoid the inconvenience of moving prisoners to magistrates’ courts just for mention of their cases.

"Prisoners have to be driven from prisons to courts even if it is just for a mention of their cases...with the tele-presence technology, magistrates will communicate with the accused via networked screens where the two (magistrate and prisoner) can see each other without shifting location," explained Ndemo.

Efficiency in Government

"This will save the Government in terms of cost of transporting prisoners, congestion in courts, and eradicate backlog of cases," added Ndemo.

The Chief Justice, Evan Gicheru, is expected this month, to launch the Nairobi-Mombasa Court of Appeal tele-presence pilot system.

According to Saul Wamalwa, Public Sector Account Director at Cisco Sytems, rollout of the tele-presence system to all lower courts would be in the next two years.

The tele-presence system is one of the digitisation and automation processes spearheaded by the Kenya ICT Board in the Government.

Officially closing the ‘Connected Government’ summit in Diani, Mombasa, Ndemo said the Government is already reaping from the ongoing digitisation of its operations.

Ndemo said with all the sectors of the economy incorporating ICT in their operations, the Government had no option but to digitise processes and transactions.

"This is the best way to fight corruption. Digitisation of data will make Government officers accountable and minimise wastage of resources," he said.

Through automation of tax returns, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) intends to increase revenue collection to Sh545 billion this financial year, up from Sh480 billion last year. Partly due to the automation, the taxman has posted a rise in revenue collection from Sh122 billion in 1996 to the Sh480 billion last year.

Delegates and speakers at the summit concurred that the Government must share ICT resources across ministries and departments to cut down on costs and enhance service delivery.

courts court proceeding high court ICT computers ISPs Bitange Ndemo
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