The Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe will today commission a video conferencing system at Luzira Maximum Security Prison to be used for mentioning of cases within the prison before being fixed for trial.
According to the judiciary, Katureebe will on the same occasion operationalize two virtual courts that have been set up within the Luzira Prison complex.
One has been put in Luzira Upper Prison Male Wing whereas the other is in the Women’s Prison.
According to the senior communications officer for the judiciary, the technology is designed to aid the mentioning of all criminal cases at Buganda Road Court involving accused persons on remand in Luzira Prison before their cases are fixed for trial.
“Buganda Road Court will also handle related cases on behalf of the Magistrates Courts of Makindye, Nakawa, Nabweru, Law Development Centre (LDC), Kira, City Hall, Nateete, Rubaga, Luzira, Kasangati and the Anti-Corruption Court,” Muyita said.
He said the new system will lower costs of prisons operations as preliminary stages for cases can be handled online as well as minimizing the risks of transporting high profile prisoners as their cases are handled online.
“It will ease access to information during court sessions. Document sharing and storage will be electronic and will be accessed remotely by the concerned parties.”
The head of the judiciary’s Technology Committee, Court of Appeal’s Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire said the system is a great innovation and big step forward for the judiciary.
“We have entered the courts of the future in Uganda. Uganda is the first country in East Africa to set up courts inside a prison. Judiciary’s strategy is to revolutionalise how justice is dispensed,” Justice Kiryabwire said.
“We are moving courts from buildings to services that are available to Ugandans who need them. With such a facility, people should be coming to the physical courts only for trials.”
NITA’s Executive Director, James Saaka, said the facility is designed to connect the courts beyond the geographical boundaries to provide faster administration of justice.
He said recordings from all court sessions will be safely kept in the National Backbone Infrastructure at the National Data Centre.
The Officer in Charge of Luzira Upper Prison, Moses Sentalo, applauded the move as being cost friendly.
“The system will save us the costs involved in the back and forth transportation of prisoners to courts as well as the stress that comes with moving high risk inmates. Imagine, transporting one inmate to court requires five prison officers handling different roles: driver, gunman, orderly, warder and supervisor),” he said.
He noted that a team of Uganda Prisons staff have been trained to operate the facility and they are ready for the
Hosted at the National Data Centre under the National Information Technology Authority (NITA-U), the high-tech court conference facilities were recently installed both in the Luzira Prison and Buganda Road Chief Magistrates Court in Kampala.
This comes on the backdrop of a number of new innovations launched by the Judiciary to enhance performance and access to justice early this year.
The judiciary in January launched an online platform of paying court fees such as money for bail of suspects among other fees.
The e-payment will enable court users pay court fees using Mobile Money at the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal/Constitutional Court and all High Courts.