Chief Justice says tech enhances efficiency of judicial processes

Feb 8, 2022, 11:12 AM | Article By: Alagie Baba

The Chief Justice of the Gambia, Hassan B. Jallow said in 2021, 8882 cases was registered out of which 4822 were disposed, representing 54.3%.

Chief Justice Jallow, added that harnessing modern technology is one of the ways in which the efficiency of court processes can be significantly improved.

He explained that virtual court sessions conducted remote hearings with the use of technology in Banjul and was rolled out subsequently to the magistrates courts in Banjul, Kanifing and Brikama.

“Suffice to say the system [virtual court hearing] was helpful in the disposal of bail and other applications and especially in the hearing of criminal cases during the month of July/August last year,” he said.

He mentioned that the virtual court was also particularly useful in the hearing and determination of cases at the high court relating to electoral matters in 2021.

“The challenge, however, faced in the operation of this system of remote hearings is the too frequent interruption in internet connectivity,” he said.

Further talking about the number of court cases in 2021, Chief Justice Jallow said this is a commendable effort by the judges, magistrates and cadis, but was quick to add much needs to be done by way of strengthening the Judiciary with additional court rooms, human resources and other facilities and by encouraging other alternative ways of resolving disputes to supplement the judicial process.

In order to decongest the prisons and accelerate the hearing of criminal cases, Chief Justice Jallow said the Judiciary devoted July and August 2021 exclusively to the hearing and determination of criminal cases, particularly of those in remand custody. He added that this exercise would continue after the Easter vacation of the courts.

Justice Jallow said the Judiciary was conscious that there is room for further improvement in case management by the courts in order to reduce, if not eliminate, avoidable delays and dispose cases more expeditiously.

He said the completion of the new court complex in Bundung slated to accommodate two high courts, two magistrates’ courts and two Cadi courts, the acute shortage of court room space in the Greater Banjul Area, which obviously impacts negatively on the hearing and disposal of cases – stands to be slightly ameliorated. He said they are looking forward for the timely release of funds by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs for furniture and equipment to ensure that the new court complex becomes operational without further delay.

He said with the provision of 40 million dalasis in the 2022 budget for infrastructure development, the Judiciary is planning to expand its infrastructure by commencing the construction of a new court complex in Brikama for the West Coast Region similar to the one in Bundung and the construction of an archives and administration building in Banjul. He said both projects will span two years and will be completed in 2023.

He said West Coast Region is the largest judicial district of the high court and the origins of the majority of the cases, adding the court rooms are not adequate in West Coast.