Judges Demand Expansion of Electronic Court System to Improve Efficiency

Judges of the Masaka High Court circuit have appealed to the judiciary to fast-track the expansion of the Electronic Court Case Management Informational System-ECCMIS, to improve their efficiency in the delivery of justice. 

In 2021, the judiciary began installing the ECCMIS network in selected courts to support the digitalized adjudication of cases through a system that eliminates physical contact between litigants and court staff. 

The electrically built system makes it possible for courts to conduct hearing sessions using zoom-conferencing portals sessions without the physical transferring of litigants as well as enabling online filling of cases and making follow-ups on the progress of files.

The judges at Masaka High Court indicate that although this electronic system has been significant in improving the delivery of justice, its coverage remains very low, which limits its effective utilization and benefits. 

Lady Justice Victoria Nakintu Nkwanga, the Masaka Senior Resident High Court Judge indicates that despite the considerable number of cases that would be adjudicated digitally, the system is installed in only one courtroom, hence frustrating its effectiveness.

In her report during the performance evaluation of the ECCMIS at Masaka High Court on Monday, Nakintu observed despite it being so effective in conducting trials in criminal matters, which contribute the biggest percentage of the cases in their registrar, they can hardly operate at the pace they would prefer; because of the apparent limited access to the system and equipment.

She challenges the Judiciary to embark on the process of fast-tracking the process of expanding the system by installing it in all courtrooms to enable them to clear the backlog that is building up.  

Justice Lawrence Tweyanze, the Masaka Resident High Court Judge suggests that the expansion is also concurrently conducted with the upgrade of the equipment and systems software, to enable direct transcription of the court sessions.

He explains that apparently, one of the other major hindrances to the expeditious adjudication of cases is the use of the manual systems of transcribing the hearing proceedings, which is both time-consuming and tedious to the staff.  

In response, Pius Bigirimaana, the Permanent Secretary to the Judiciary says that the government appreciates the relevance of the system and the use of other modern technologies in the delivery of justice and that it is working to establish partnerships with different development partners to enhance its capacity.

According to Bigirimana, through the support from United Nations Development Program-UNDP, the government has since installed the ECCMIS system in the courts in Masaka, Buganda Road, Nakawa, Mubende, Mbale, Mbarara, Masindi among others, and will soon expand it to Jinja, Gulu, Mukono, Luwero, Moroto, Tororo, Iganga, Hoima, and Lira High Courts. 

The ECCMIS eliminates the tendencies of manual handling of case files in physical files that are usually kept in wooden shelves in the registry offices where they can easily be misplaced or destroyed. 

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