Courts back to normal operations after Covid-19 scale down
By Japheth Ogila | October 11th 2020
The Judiciary is resuming its normal operations after months of scale down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a circular released by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on October 9, signed by Chief Registrar of Judiciary Anne Amadi; the commission reveals the courts have resumed normal operations in strict conformity to Covid-19 protocols.
The JSC has recommended that both digital and physical platforms to be used so that cases can be prosecuted without delay to avert backlogs.
“Following the advisory by the Ministry of Health (MoH), the JSC wishes to inform members of the public that it has now scaled up its operations.
In addition to the online services, the Commission has resumed physical operations strictly in compliance with the MoH Covid-19 protocols. Members of the public may now access the JSC offices in line with the laid down Covid-19 protocols,” the JSC stated.
Lined up ahead is the exercise to recruit 632 extra personnel to fill up the positions of law clerks, senior legal researchers and legal researchers. This, the JSC said will add the capacity of the courts to deal with the cases.
“…the JSC will be conducting physical interviews from 12th October to November 3, 2020, for a total of six hundred and thirty-two (632) candidates shortlisted for the following advertised positions: Law Clerks (14 posts), Senior Legal Researchers (30 posts) and Legal Researchers (158 posts),” the JSC revealed.
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After this exercise, the JSC will sanction the recruitment of Magistrates and Kadhis, and 65 extra personnel in various directorates.
The Judiciary scaled down its functions to address the risks of spreading the coronavirus on March 15, 2020. The decision was reached after Chief Justice David Maraga chaired a meeting by National Council for the Administration of Justice, which was attended officers from the Ministry of Health.
“In compliance with the directive issued by the National Emergency and Response Committee, we shall forthwith scale down court activities throughout the country over the next two weeks effective tomorrow, March 16, 2020, in order to allow further consultations and design appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the virus,” National Council for the Administration of Justice noted in a statement.
At the time, the JSC opted to make changes in the operations. Some of the changes included stopping prison visits, blocking remandees and prisoners from being presented in courts to prevent them from contracting the virus. Also, plea taking was affected with exception of serious cases. Appeals and hearings were equally affected.
The NCAJ stated, “With regard to new arrests, all cases except serious ones will be dealt with at the police stations in accordance with guidelines to be issued by the Inspector General of Police.”
“All appeals, hearings, and mentions in Criminal and Civil cases in all courts are suspended with immediate effect. All execution proceedings are also suspended during the two weeks.”
The Judiciary also stopped physical training and trips outside the country.
Amadi would then announce the launch of the e-filing system to jumpstart the registration and prosecution of cases digitally to avoid the pileups in June 2020. This would operate in a month.
“Any computer or device that allows attachment of files will be sufficient to access the system and carry out the e-filing. The system is already open for use and the public is encouraged to familiarise itself with it prior to the official launch,” her statement read.
“The courts are already increasingly using ICT platforms to conduct hearings and deliver judgments and rulings,” she added.
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