Judiciary launches virtual court system

Inmates at Luzira Maximum Prison will no longer need to travel to courtrooms for the mention of their cases, thanks to the introduction of video conferencing facilities by the judiciary.

This is one of the latest measures by the judiciary in an effort to address the case backlog using technology.

The system launched by the Chief Justice Bart Katureebe at Buganda Road court enables inmates to know when they will return to court without appearing physically.

During the launch on Monday, the system was connected to the male wing of Luzira Maximum prison and Buganda Road Court. The system allowed inmates in Luzira prison to hear the proceedings in the court room.

Chief Justice Bart Katureebe with Principal Judge Yorakamu Bamwiine during the launch of the syetm at Buganda Road court

Katureebe said the system will help improve the work of the Judiciary, Police and Prisons by enabling the court system to handle more hearings in a day in an efficient way.

“This introduction of ICT in our working environment should not be seen as an end in itself, it is an enabling tool that enables us to do our work more efficiently. Let us not assume that because we now computers, the recordings and so on, it will necessarily take away our duty to do justice,” Katureebe said.

He noted that such efficiency will lead to reduced expenditure for prisons, courts and police that play a role in delivering justice. Katureebe also explained that the system is going to expedite justice as required by the constitution.

Speaking from Luzira via the new system, the Commissioner of Prisons Dr Johnson Byabashaija said the system will help in reducing the costs of transporting inmates from prison to courts.

He noted that the system will improve on safety and security of dangerous inmates and ease access to information during court sessions.

Dr Byabashaija could not hide his excitement to be reporting live from Luzira. The system is installed in both the male and female wing at Luzira Maximum security prison.

However during the launch, the video conferencing was only available to the male wing with works on the female wing still ongoing.

Provisions have also been made for handling cases of victims of sexual violence though the system by concealing their identity through removal of their faces and distortion of their voices during court proceedings.

The system is catered for by laws such as the Computer misuse act, the Electronic transactions act, the Electronic signatures act all developed in 2011 as well as the Judicature (Visual- Audio) Rules of 2016. The visual-audio rules enable courts to do business using visual-audio links.

The Chairperson of the Judiciary Technology Committee, Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire, said the Judiciary requires about 12 billion Shillings to install such a system in all courts.