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Digitalization of justice record management systems in the Indian Ocean Region

Electronic Case Management Pic 1Indian Ocean, 21 July 2021 - UNODC GMCP is working together with states in the Indian Ocean Region to enhance effectiveness and integrity of the Judiciary by rolling out or improving electronic case management systems.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the challenges in accessing justice in a timely, fair, and effective manner when lockdowns and social distancing measures limit communication. This context provides an opportunity for the sector to examine ways in which the justice system can become more efficient and agile, with long-term impact that can last beyond the crisis period. Strengthening information, communication, and technology (ICT) infrastructures and conducting the digitalization of case management became essential to the effectiveness and integrity of the Judiciary.

To build capacity in the criminal justice system, UNODC GMCP is working with governments in the Indian Ocean region to support electronic case management (eCMS) implementation and upgrade. “The advent of an electronic case management system radically transforms the legal landscape in any region, boost the confidence in the judiciary and significantly contribute to legal finish of maritime crimes”, explains Martin Mbui, UNODC ICT Consultant.

Electronic Case Management Pic 2UNODC observed the difficulties in retrieving cases in the courts in Kenya and worked together with the judiciary to develop an Electronic Case System that converts manual records into the digital format, enabling remote and online access. Now, UNODC is working in partnership with Comorian and Tanzanian governments to build efficient and robust case management systems in those countries. “First, it is necessary to go physically to each location to conduct an assessment on whether the Judiciary is ready for digitization and assess the infrastructure available. Then, UNODC maps out the different steps the manual case files take from when they are open to when they are concluded. The key to building the electronic case system is to adapt these manual procedures that already exists into a digital language” explains Mbui.

In Tanzania, where the Judiciary already operates an eCMS, UNODC GMCP is assisting 157 court houses in upgrading their systems and is working in partnership with the Judiciary of Tanzania's High Court to build an integrated maritime crime portal where automated case tasks including cause lists, workflow and real-time case analysis can be accessible through out Tanzania by all Judicial officers. Setting an eCMS is part of the strategic plan of the Comorian government, where case files are held manually. Currently, UNODC is supporting the development of this project in Comoros. Through a series of questionnaires and interviews, UNODC GMCP understands the needs of the Comorian Judiciary and their expectations in order to tailor the system to their necessities. Once the eCMS is fully implemented, trainings are conducted for all legal fraternity to become familiarised with the system.

UNODC also conducts Training of the Trainers in order to allow the Judiciary to be autonomous, by having experts prepared to deal with challenges that the system might present.

It is undeniable that an efficient and robust case management system works to improve the effectiveness and integrity of the Judiciary and National Legal system. UNODC works to support national authorities in developing capacities to prioritize, manage, and track cases and establish functioning systems and to operate them remotely where possible. The aim is to revolutionize East African region’s criminal justice capacities, promoting greater efficiency and cost effectiveness in judicial processes.

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