The Minister of State for Gender and Culture Peace Mutuuzo has asked the Judiciary to embrace technology in the operations of Courts of law to ensure inclusive access to justice. "Since the fate of Covid-19 is not known, the Judiciary ought to consider putting up infrastructure to enable people even in rural communities attend court hearings online," Ms Mutuuzo said.
She made the remarks at the National Conference on Women Rights organised by Barefoot Law in Kampala recently. Barefoot Law is a private organisation that uses innovations and technology to foster access to justice among disadvantaged women.
During the conference, Barefoot Law Uganda also launched findings from their two-year project Legal Empowerment of Women Using Technology (LEWUTI) that aims at empowering women to access legal services through technology and innovation.
The project is applauded for creating free access to legal services, reporting of cases and mediation to solve outstanding cases. Ms Mutuuzo commended the project, saying women and children have always faced challenges in accessing justice, but the project will have more women benefiting.
The minister said women's access to justice is a challenge due to many reasons, including low levels of literacy, knowledge of existing laws and the expenses incurred in the process of accessing justice. "I know it is difficult to work with digital tools within our communities because many lack smart phones and stable power. Therefore I appreciate that this project works with community moderators, those are our true heroes," she adds.
She said when it comes to e-justice, there is a need to ensure that everyone has access to digital tools for us to be able to ensure digital access to justice for all. The Executive Director of Barefoot Law, Gerald Abila, asked Parliament to push for access to technology by people in rural areas who he said have limited access to both judicial and technology.
He said by creating access to the law and justice, we can strengthen the rule of law, enhance justice and bring peace, foster economic and social progress. Mr Abila cited challenges such as language barrier, few and expensive legal services working against women in society.
These are precisely the reasons why LEWUTI uses free digital solutions to increase women's access to justice. He said through use of technology, they were able to serve poor and underserved people in Uganda, according to their degree of access.