Justice ministry working to increase the use of technology — ChuckSunday, March 21, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Justice Ministry is working to increase the use of technology and virtual sessions in the administration of justice across the island.
So far, training sessions, court hearings and public education initiatives have been executed using virtual modalities.
There has also been a marked increase in the use of audio-visual equipment in the country's courts.
Speaking at a JIS Think Tank on March 18, Portfolio Minister, Delroy Chuck said the ministry is working on strengthening internet connectivity.
“The real drawback we are having is to ensure that all the Justice Centres in the parishes and the Courts, that they are connected by broadband. I have reached out to the Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Hon Daryl Vaz and Minister Chang, to ensure that our broadband provides the requisite connectivity,” he said.
“Because without the broadband connectivity, you can have a situation where you may have virtual hearings within say the Parish Court and then there could be a break in the connection, which we don't want happening,” Chuck added.
Existing broadband connectivity in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal has facilitated over fifty per cent of matters being done virtually.
Chuck said the next step is to increase connectivity in the island's prisons and police stations.
So, they must have a camera for Zoom purposes and a monitor [which will enable] prisoners to no longer be brought to court from the jails and from the prisons. So, if you have a room with the accused person, most mentions and bail applications can be done without the accused person actually coming into the court,” the justice minister said.
He argued that if police stations are properly equipped, witnesses would no longer have to travel from various deep rural areas to the courts themselves.
“So, what would happen is that the witnesses would go to that police station and give his or her evidence from that police station, properly supervised or properly watched to make sure that they are not being coached. Moreover, we can have virtual court hearings right across Jamaica,” the minister explained.
Meanwhile, Chuck said he hopes the process to increase internet penetration starts this year.
“In a nutshell we are hoping with broadband connectivity, with the provision of a room in all the police stations, and in all the prisons, that virtual hearings will be conducted in most, if not all the parish courts in 2021,” Chuck said.
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