New Digital Innovation In Fiji’s Courts
In a historical move, the right to access justice and due process for the people of Fiji is being facilitated through the establishment of an electronic case management and e-filing system in Fiji’s Courts.
The digital innovation in Fiji’s court system aims to enable people in the country to access justice in a more efficient and timely manner. This initiative is being supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji with financial support from the European Union (EU) through the Fiji Access to Justice Project.
Acting Chief Justice Hon. Kamal Kumar said, “Upon installation of electronic system, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal all High Courts and Magistrates Courts will be managed systemically and simultaneously online.”
The new initiative includes the establishment of e-filing and case management systems, e-helpdesks, provision of hardware for data backup, and training for the utilization of the e-filing system. It will improve the provision of efficient legal services and information, and establish a system for monitoring, analysing and reporting on case trends to strengthen accountability and transparency in Judicial procedures.
“The establishment of an electronic case management system embodies our aspiration to strengthen efficiency and accountability in the Judicial system, as elaborated in our Strategic Plan and will contribute to our Government’s plan and policies to reduce carbon emission and save us from the effects of climate change,” Justice Kumar added.
As the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbate and deepen existing inequalities around the world, risks of insecurity, crime, and gender-based and domestic violence increase. Upholding and strengthening the rule of law and access to justice is crucial at this time.
“The Ambassador of the European Union to Fiji, HE Sujiro Seam said “The digitization of the court case management system by Fiji’s Judicial Department is for the European Union at the crossroads of its values, its priorities and its response to Covid-19. It is a part of its Access to Justice Project, designed to strengthen the Judicial System and democratic values in Fiji. It is in line with the priority promoted by the European Union to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital world. It upgrades the capacity of the Judicial System to face the challenges of the increase in court cases generated by the Covid-19 crisis.”
Levan Bouadze, Resident Representative of the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji said, “I am thankful for the partnership developed through the Fiji Access to Justice Project. I believe this digital development will strengthen people’s confidence in the court system and provide reliable access to justice in Fiji.”
He added that the new system would also enable the Judicial Department to identify areas where additional resources may be required and streamline processes, in particular for vulnerable groups to strengthen access to justice.
The Fiji Access to Justice Project, funded by the EU and implemented by UNDP, supports access to justice, in particular for impoverished and vulnerable groups. It does so by empowering people to access their legal rights and services, strengthening key justice institutions to deliver improved services, and strengthening the capacity of CSOs to deliver justice accompaniment services, with a special focus on supporting persons with disabilities and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
The project supports Fiji’s commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, with focus on Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions and Goal 5: Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls.