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Poor litigants to get free Wifi at Mombasa Court to access virtual proceedings

By Joackim Bwana | July 26th 2020

Mombasa Law Court has introduced free WiFi for poor litigants who seek to access virtual courts.

Mombasa Chief Magistrate Evans Makori said the move is part of preventive measures to curb the spread of Coronavirus in the corridors of justice.

“In order not to lock out poor litigants, the ICT team has developed WiFi points at the court which will assist poor litigants to access courts virtually,” said Makori.

He spoke during the reopening of the courts after it was shut down on June 19 by Chief Justice David Maraga.

Maraga had directed the closure of the Mombasa Law Courts and Tononoka Children Courts after 11 judicial staff members tested positive with Covid-19.

Yesterday, Maraga who spoke through virtual teleconference, urged the judges, magistrates and judicial staff to exercise caution when providing services.

“As we resume services, we have to deal with a delicate balance act of keeping safe and rendering services to the litigants,” said Maraga.

The move is set to minimise physical appearance in courts by litigants during this period when Coronavirus infections have soared.

With this development, Makori said 80 per cent of civil cases will be done virtually.

The magistrate said for criminal matters, social distance has to be observed.

“In the coming days, there will be a roll out of how criminal cases will proceed in an orderly manner while observing social distance,” said Makori.

He said all the courts have been marked on the capacity of human personnel who can attend a proceeding at ago.

Makori said by next week all the pending civil matters that were affected by the pandemic will be allocated hearing dates.

Social distance

“From next week all the cases will be listed and directions given virtually,” said Makori.

Makori said as the courts resume, no adjournment of cases will be allowed.

“The new norm for physical appearance in court is to have witnesses appearance for the case to proceed. No adjournment will be allowed,” said Makori.

To actualise the digital plan, he said judicial officers have been equipped with laptops to enable them preside over virtual courts.

Additionally, Makori said courts and registries will have specific personnel to answer to emails, reply on files and answer queries posed on google forms.

“We encourage lawyers, if possible, to assist their clients in filing statements and documents online,” said Makori.

He said each judicial officer will have a unique link for a month to facilitate their work.

Meanwhile, Presiding High Court Judge Justice Erick Ogola confirmed that all the 11 judicial staff that tested positive with Covid-19 were well and had already resumed work.

“All the 11 judicial staff members that tested positive with Covid-19 are now well and back to work,” said Justice Ogola.

Ogola welcomed delivery of judgments virtually and said they were ready to embrace the new normal.

He also urged the Judiciary to assist the government in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic because some locals don’t believe the virus is real.

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