Rwanda: Regional Chief Justices Discuss Technology, Environment

The 5th meeting of the East African Community Forum of Chief Justices ended in Kigali on Wednesday, May 12, where the participants agreed to embrace technology more in executing their daily activities.

Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the forum, the President of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Faustin Ntezilyayo said that the top judges for three days to discuss some salient issues especially around information and experiences sharing amongst member countries in order to deliver faster and better quality justice to their respective citizens.

"For instance, we are discussing how we can use technology in administration of justice. There is software like the case management system for example that is used when dealing with cases.

"In Rwanda, we have advanced in that area but we are willing to share these success stories with our regional neighbours," Ntezilyayo said.

Embracing technology

He touched on the discussions that revolved around enhancing the use of technology whose value has been made even more prominent by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"There is almost nothing that you can do right now without technology. It's important that we all embrace it, and teach each other from a junior employee to the judge so that when we are dealing with something like a remote hearing, everyone is on the same page," he said.

Environmental discussions

Ntezilyayo added that heads of the judiciary also discussed how they can sustain training programmes in modern trends that are of global importance.

For instance, he reminded that although environmental sustainability development justice is necessary and affects many people today, most students who graduate from law school have no knowledge about how to deal with cases related to this area.

"We need to learn how to deal with these cases because when we are in law school, we are not given any lessons on environmental or natural resource-related laws. We have to catch up," he said.

He added that with this, the judiciary can play a meaningful role in upholding the rule of law as far as environmental and sustainable development.

"We want to get the judiciary conversant with this concept of environmental sustainability so that when an environment-related dispute arises, the judiciary is equipped with enough information so that they can deliver fair justice," he said.

The Chief Justice of South Sudan Chac Ruc Madut told participants that his country was still lagging behind in many areas and had a lot to learn from all the other members.

For instance, Madut said that most trainers prefer to do their training sessions in using English but very few people in his country speak and write the language.

He also raised the issue of illiteracy where besides language barriers, not many people were well versed with using a computer and basic human rights.

"We have many challenges. In fact, when people are talking about abuse of human rights, most people in my country have no idea what is being referred to. This is because they prefer customary laws which are outdated and abusive in nature," he said.

The President of the East African Court of Justice Nesta Kayobera said that although the assumption is that judges know everything, they too had a lot to learn.

"I have heard a saying alluding to judges being people who know all but that is completely misleading. We all can learn something from each other," he said.

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