Technology finds place in new High Court
By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana
The legal fraternity in Botswana has opted to move with the times in as far as modern day technology is concerned in order to expedite the conclusion of both new and outstanding cases. The newly opened USD55million High Court and Court of Appeal are the first judicial arms in the country to have video conferencing equipment, overhead projectors as well as a host of other techno-related gadgets, described as a rarity for a judicial setting.
The High Court as well as the Court of Appeal in Botswana has been relocated from the dormitory town of Lobatse, which is about 70 kilometers from the main city Gaborone to the newly established CBD in the heart of the city. The total construction cost of these facilities which included furnishing, stocking of the library and new IT equipment for the technology court stands at USD55million about (P386 million).
Speaking during the official opening of the new courts, Botswana’s president Ian Khama Seretse Khama said “I am informed that these Courts buildings which took 46 months to complete, have nine (9) Court rooms for the High Court and three (3) court rooms for the Court of Appeal, with room for expansion by two additional courts with the necessary Judges’ Chambers.”
Of the new techno savvy courts Khama said, “There is also a Technology Court which is the first of its type in this country, fitted with video conferencing facilities, overhead projectors, and other necessary technology to enable such a court to operate. Video Conferencing will make it possible for the court to hear the testimony of some witnesses, such as those who are abroad, without the need for them to be physically before the Court.”
Botswana has undergone a marked transformation in all spheres of its developmental efforts. The Judiciary has also been expanded and modernised, not only its court structures but also in the processes through which justice is delivered.
According to the president, the Executive Branch of Government has been supportive of all the initiatives that have been undertaken in the judiciary “as we recognise that efficient service delivery is the hallmark of good governance. We firmly believe that as one of the three arms of government, the Judiciary must be provided with the necessary resources to enable it to deliver justice fairly and efficiently.”
He added: “The transformation to which I refer has not been limited to infrastructure; it includes human resources right up to the higher echelons of the Judiciary. Eighteen years may not seem a long time in the history of a nation, but that is how long it has been since the first Motswana was appointed as Chief Justice of this Republic.
The Judiciary has in the past been dogged by the problems of slow delivery of justice and a substantial backlog of cases. It is gratifying that in response to the concerns of the public that it serves, the Judiciary has come up with a number of initiatives. One of these is the system of Judicial Case Management which I am informed has dramatically reduced case backlogs and has led to the swifter and more efficient completion of High Court cases. I am also informed that this has now been rolled out to the magistrates’ courts as well.”