THE JUSTICE sector on Friday announced plans to establish an integrated electronic case management system which aims at reducing the time a case spends before court, avoid duplications and reduce operational costs.
The system, which was launched by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Pascal Ruganintwari, will start operating in 2015 and will be fully operational by 2018.
“We want to overhaul the judicial system, we cannot afford to keep talking about this initiative, it’s time we move ahead and act and we can only do that by implementing this system,” said Ruganitwari.
While presenting the system to key players in the judiciary, the IT advisor of the justice reconciliation, law and order sector, Jean-Louis Kaliningondo said that the new system aims at ensuring public safety, improving access to judiciary and ensuring fair and efficient administration of justice.
“This project has been in gestation since 2009 and now it’s taking shape. Basically the system will have a central unit linking all the judicial institutions – the National Police, prosecution BAR Association, the courts, Civil Litigation Unit, Kigali International Arbitration Centre and the courts,” he said.
Whenever the police make an arrest, it will immediately enter details of the case and evidence in the system, the prosecution and the Bar Association will be able to get the case details immediately from the police which they would use in courts.
The courts will also have access to the system which will help in ensuring that there is no duplication of information.
“This is an effort that shall require the highest kind of coordination among the institutions that make up the Justice Sector. A Project Management Team made of representatives from all relevant institutions is going to be put in place in order to supervise the technical implementation of this new system,” said Kaliningondo.
Cases that involve the state will automatically be picked up by the Civil Litigation Unity in the Ministry of justice while the Kigali International Arbitration Center will handle cases referred to them for arbitration.
So far only Sierra Leone has attempted to implement a similar system but on a small scale, their system is only used by 12 people in the courts. If this system is rolled out effectively it will be the first of the kind in Africa that is comprehensive.
The Secretary General in the Supreme Court, Anne Gahongayire pointed out that there was need to give the new system a lot of attentions so that people’s expectations are well managed.
“We need to outline all the requirements to have it running so as we can know where we stand and what we need to start with,” she said.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, the Secretary General of the National Public Prosecution Authority, Jean Damascene Habimana who also heads the Project Management Team said that at US$ 7 million, the project is considered cheap since it will be using available infrastructures like the Fiber optic cable and 4G Internet network.
“So far we have secured some funding of about US$2.4 from some partners but we still need more...then we will hire a software developer to build this software and it’s from that that we will know the kind of hardware that will be needed to have this system running,” said Habimana.
Issues of case management have been at the helm of challenges faced by the judicial sector and as a result, the backlog has been toning down at a low rate.
However, if this new system is completely rolled out, experts say it will contribute immensely to changing the whole justice system to a more effective one.