Imagine having your ruling delivered to you right at the comfort of your home. Sounds weird but it’s happening. In a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19, the Judiciary scaled down court operations and moved to use online platforms. The Magistrates are using Zoom, Skype and Facebook for these online rulings. According to the Star, the Judiciary has delivered 7,000 judgments since it scaled down its operations in March due to the coronavirus outbreak.
There is no doubt that the crisis has provided an opportunity for those in the justice sector to reflect on how to address the current gaps related to technology in the enhancement of justice.
Chief Justice David Maraga said this when he received a donation of laptops from the EU/UNODC in Nairobi on Wednesday. He notes that they achieved a lot despite facing several challenges in the use of technology to deliver justice.
This is quite encouraging as Kenyans can now embrace technology in the justice sector for online court cases. Even after the pandemic, Zoom meetings may become a norm in courts when a person can’t physically attend a hearing. This move looks to have revolutionised the system.
It’s Not Been Smooth Sailing
Despite the move to go digital in court, issues of latency and clarity still affect the online court sessions.
These online Court sessions are basically 98% us asking the Court whether they can see and hear us 🤦🏿♂️😭 it is even confusing to my neighbors. They keep hearing me shouting “My Lord can you see me?” “I can’t hear you my Lord” pic.twitter.com/kDowYjrTVA
— Ochieng Oginga (@ArnoldOginga) May 6, 2020
However, Justice Maraga has a few words of hope for the future of online rulings.
I call upon all of us in the justice sector, including members of the public, to seize this moment and turn it into an opportunity to revolutionise our sector through technology..
Court proceedings through zoom are just uncomfortable.. but we must get used to it as Advocates! I hope the person who drunk bat soup bites his tongue nqt. pic.twitter.com/2TYfIHI0Z1
— Ochieng Oginga (@ArnoldOginga) April 30, 2020
It may take a while to reach a critical level of operations. However, with determination, they will enhance services using technological platforms available.