, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 14 – The Judiciary has taken a leap into the digital technology world by launching the first ever video conference hearing of cases in Kenya.
Already this week, the Court of Appeal has heard three cases via video conference where the Bench sat in Nairobi while the respective lawyers were in Mombasa.
While launching the Judiciary ICT Policy and Strategic plan at the Nairobi High Court, Chief Justice Evan Gicheru said the adoption of technology would speed up the delivery of justice.
"Virtual courts have the potential to transform how the justice system deals with cases. They are vital in the drive to deliver swift justice, resolving cases faster and improving service given to victims, witnesses and defendants," said Justice Gicheru.
The video conferencing is among other ICT initiatives to be adopted by the courts in the next three years including digitisation of court records and electronic recording of proceedings.
After rolling out video conferencing, the CJ said installation of voice recognition technology would be the next milestone on the corridors of justice.
"Such a facility will free judges from the task of manually copying verbatim the evidence and arguments. It has the potential to re-engineer the standards of how we work including digital recording of evidence," he said.
Justice Gicheru said they had decided to bypass the electronic recording of cases (Hansard) since it would require extra manpower to transcribe.
"This technology will solve the perennial problem of archival and storage of paper records," he added.
The Chairman of the Judiciary ICT Committee Justice Phillip Waki said to achieve the benchmarks of the policy and the strategic plan, there would be need to invest massively in human resource in the Judiciary.
"We have recommended the upgrading of the ICT section to a fully fledged department to be headed by a Director and an able deputy and sufficient manpower," he said.
Justice Waki said the Judiciary had already started the electronic archival. He said they had hired 200 persons to digitise current paper records.
"They have already done more than seven million pages and they plan to do more than 30 million copies," he said.
Also at the function, Law Society of Kenya Chairman Ken Akide hailed the development saying it would ensure cases are attended to faster and efficiently.
"We are seeing some light at the end of the (tunnel) in fulfilling one ideal for justice: access to justice for all," he said.