Chief Justice makes case for electronic case management

Chief Justice Prof. Sam Rugege and the Minister for ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire in Kigali, on Wednesday, June 12th, 2019. Jean Chretien Munezero.

use of Integrated Electronic Case Management System (IECMS) has significantly reduced the time it takes to file a case to court, mitigated possible corruption cases, and improved transparency, Chief Justice Prof. Sam Rugege has said.

Rugege was yesterday addressing participants at a two-day international conference on the role of IECMS, in Kigali.

Organised by the Ministry of Justice in collaboration with other institutions affiliated to the justice sector, and development partners, the conference aimed at showcasing the role of IECMS in the Rwandan court system.

Through IECMS, a plaintiff can file a case and be able to follow up online without having physical contact with judges and court officials and without having to go to court.

Rugege said the meeting was a great opportunity for countries to learn from one another as participants would discuss importance, challenges and potential of IECMS for further development of the sector.

He shared the experience on how the system has changed the way justice is delivered in Rwanda and other benefits associated with the system.

Rwandan courts first adopted the system in 2014.

“Recording of court proceedings was previously done by hand and all documents were kept in folders and storage was poor with a risk of damage or fire, or loss of files whether intended or unintended,” he said.

He said that finding a particular file was also very difficult since it meant physically searching from huge volumes of files from the archives.

“Today, with the IECMS, cases are accessed electronically from anywhere and most importantly, litigants can now file cases electronically and follow progress of the cases at any time of day or night, from anywhere,” he said.

“The cost and time spent on cases has considerably reduced, even the process of writing documents has been made easier. Most of information like police reports, witness statements, pleadings, and records of proceedings are all accessible to the judge in the system,” he said.

Rugege noted that about 99 per cent of people who seek justice in various courts file their cases online.

He said all has not come without challenges, citing inadequacy of technical skills to meet more sophisticated demand and fear of technology by parties involved.

He added that the Government provided training to address issues of capacity to use IECMS, among other technologies that can boost service delivery.

The Government has been working with various partners, including UNDP, in setting up the system.

According to Stephen Rodriques, the UNDP Resident Representative in Rwanda, supporting the justice sector was ideal as access to justice to all is one of the pillars for development.

UNDP provided $1.5 million to set up the system and is working with the Government to make it sustainable by training users, he said.

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