THE Judiciary of Tanzania has successfully conducted court sessions using Video Conference technology through several devices installed in various locations to implement its approach of speeding up cases’ address and as well reducing costs of processing them.
Speaking to the ‘Daily News’ over the phone yesterday, Judiciary Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Deputy Director, Machumu Essaba said for the past two months, they managed to hear a total of 4,711 cases countrywide in different Lower Courts, High Court Centres and Court of Appeal through the new technology.
He elaborated that in the implementation of the programme, there were three phases, where the first one involved installing equipment at the High Court in Dar es Salaam, and Kisutu Judicial Training Centre in the city as well as Lushoto Institute of Judicial Administration in Tanga.
The second phase, according to him, involved expanding facilities at Keko Prison and Bukoba High Court Centre, adding: “The third stage covered many areas and we had to install the equipment in all prisons in regions in their High Court Zones.”
The IT Expert further noted that the installations of the equipment about two months ago saw several court sessions being conducted through the video conferencing, saying: “For example, the Court of Appeal conducted five sessions for 48 cases, three of them in Dar es Salaam where 30 were heard.”
His list included Tabora, where nine were heard and Iringa Region also nine, besides the Dar es Salaam High Court Zone, which had 3,188 cases, where 804 of them were settled by the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court.
Other 714 cases, according to him, were heard by Kinondoni District Court, the Ilala District Court (992), Kigamboni District Court (155) and the Mbeya High Court Zone (367).
The list further included Tanga (310), Musoma (58), Tabora (130), Dodoma (78), Mtwara (66), Arusha (41), Kigoma (37), Sumbawanga (23), Iringa (15), Moshi (46), Songea (14), Shinyanga (12 and Mwanza (28) and Commercial and Labour Divisions hearing 55 and 90 cases, respectively.
Hearing of such cases through video conference was a result of the directives given by Chief Justice (CJ) Prof Ibrahim Juma on March 23, 2020 while in Mwanza, where among others measure was to prevent the spread of the deadly Coronavirus in gatherings.
Records show that there were also a lot of criminal proceedings conducted between the Kisutu Court with Keko and Segerea Prisons, where nine cases involved witnesses from Britain, US, China and Kenya being also heard.
Through the process, costs and parties taking time were minimized and that provided them with an opportunity to spend the saved money elsewhere for their own benefits.
In addition, over the short period of time, the Court also spent not more than 10m/- and saved about 340m/- to conduct the sessions and still managed to dispense justice.
Over the past five years, the Judiciary succeeded in its programme of clearing case backlogs from 12 per cent estimated as 96,852 cases, which were pending by the end of December 2015 to five per cent by the end of December 2019.
However, he noted that there were no cases pending for more than 12 months in the Resident Magistrate’s and District Courts or for more than six months at the Primary Courts.