Electronic system credited with improving access to justice

The system also allows the user to monitor progress of their filed cases online, without having to go to the court’s registry.
Judicial personnel at a past event. Emmanuel Kwizera.

The Integrated Electronic Case Management System (IECMS) has significantly increased the number of people who seek justice through filing court cases easily, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Technology, Culture and Youth heard yesterday.

Briefing the committee on the system and other justice related issues, the judiciary’s Inspector General, Regis Rukundakuvuga, said that electronic filing system, introduced in 2016 after two trial phases helps complainants to file cases and keep track of their progress using online facilities.

“At the time it was being introduced, 50,102 cases were filed between 2015/2016 but they shot up to 63,360 in 2017/2018.  It has made everything much simpler because while it used to require some people to walk long distances to file court cases, they can now do it from anywhere,” he said.

The system also allows the user to monitor progress of their filed cases online, without having to go to the court’s registry.

The State Minister of Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Evode Uwizeyimana, told the MPs that currently every district has at least three judicial access point lawyers who are available to them whenever need be.

However, Uwizeyimana pointed out that there have been requests that the lawyers increase the services at the sector level, adding that this would require a bigger budget.

“We have 30 districts, and 90 lawyers or even more. It was requested that these lawyers should go as far as the sector level and what this means is the number would be more than 416 lawyers and this would be difficult to fund,” he said.

He warned that there has been abuse of some services where they are accessed by the wrong people, adding that the Government was more minimising conflict instead of investing in more courts and prisons.

“While we are determined to help as much as we can, we also discourage the tendency to abuse these services. This service is meant for poor families. We should discourage the locals from pursuing unnecessary cases and instead encourage them to use mediators,” he said.

The chairperson of the Commission, Leonard Ndagijimana, agreed saying that while the judicial services offered by the Government continue to improve, there was need to raise awareness about how the locals can access them.

“We have so many laws that are there to protect the people but,   unfortunately, they are unaware of them and this blocks their right to justice. We should find ways to use the media to sensitise members of the public about all these services so that they can know where and who to contact when they are seeking justice,” he said.

The session continues today.