Uganda: Digital Transformation To Ease Access To Justice
Justice, Law and Order Services (JLOS) under the Governance and Security Programme is committed to easing access to Justice through digital transformation.
JLOS, in collaboration with the Innovation Village and with support from the European Union (Justice and Accountability Reform), organized a workshop to engage stakeholders on how technology can be leveraged to improve access to justice.
Speaking at the workshop in Kampala on Wednesday, Sam Rogers Wairagala, the Deputy Senior Technical Advisor at Governance and Security (JLOS) Secretariat, said technology is increasingly being pitched as a solution to ease access to justice.
“Whereas challenges and bottlenecks exist in the adoption of technology in Uganda’s legal and justice system, efforts are being made by different players within the sector to ensure that digital innovations; such as video conferencing for court hearings, e-case filings, digital exhibits and evidence presentation are increasingly used during legal processes”, he said.
Wairagala says technology has the potential to transform access to justice and improve the entire legal system.
“If well leveraged, digital tools can enable justice institutions to optimize and refocus their business processes, improve service delivery to users, protect human rights and democratize access to justice,” he added.
Worldwide, the justice system has been designed in a way that makes access to legal processes difficult for a regular person.
This is clearly seen in the complexity of the language or terminologies used, behavioural protocols, and even the way courtrooms are designed to intentionally put barriers between the judges, lawyers, and the rest of the ordinary people.
The workshop was held under the theme: “Creating solutions, partnerships and synergies for a digitally driven and integrated justice ecosystem”
The stakeholder workshop tackled key areas within the justice sector where technology can be leveraged to enable faster, more efficient case management, effective conflict resolution, and easy access to the legal system.
Edgar Kuhimbisa, the e-Justice and digital transformation lead at the JLOS Secretariat, in his remarks, reinforced the need for public-private partnerships in driving the digital justice agenda.
“Our collaboration with players in this ecosystem is crucial in enabling us to innovate around the development of digital legal solutions that can optimize citizen interaction with the justice institutions”, he said.
Hellen Mukasa, LegalTech Lab Lead at the Innovation Village said transforming the justice sector through innovation makes the justice system more accessible and equitable to all.
“This helps streamline administrative processes, avoid red tape, and reduce massive court cases and backlogs currently experienced by the system,” she said.
She added that the introduction of e-justice platforms will be able to navigate the complexities of the law and enjoy more frequent and quality interaction with justice institutions, which improves citizen engagement, transparency, and accountability of justice institutions.
“Through Future Lab studio, we shall conduct a grand hackathon challenge that will bring together founders, developers, corporations, and other stakeholders to hack solutions to challenges preventing un-served and underserved communities from reaching their full potential,” she noted.
She said the “Grand Hack” challenge will leverage interdisciplinary innovation to tackle systemic challenges in the target opportunity spaces.
“Innovators can innovate around either Community Driven Development, Last Mile Access, or Innovative Finance,” she pointed out.
Mukasa explains that Innovation will be supported to identify gaps within the justice system through coaching and mentorship, during the incubation and accelerator programs with the aim of taking innovations to market.
Although the process of digitizing the justice system has started, bringing the courts and the entire justice system into the digital age is a complex and monumental task.
To make it a success, our traditional understanding of access to justice must be rethought, and ambitious digital strategies must be developed and implemented.
Justice Law and Order Services (JLOS) are offered under the Access to Justice component of the Governance and Security Programme.
Formerly known as the Justice, Law and Order Sector, JLOS is a sector-wide approach adopted by the Government of Uganda in 1999 to bring together institutions with closely linked mandates of administering justice and maintaining law and order.
These include guaranteeing of human rights, into developing a common vision, policy framework, unified on objectives and plans over the medium term.
It focuses on a holistic approach to improving access to and administration of justice through the sector-wide approach to planning, budgeting, programme implementation, monitoring and evaluation.