JIS News

The establishment of a videoconferencing system and other technologies to improve the justice system is being funded by the Universal Service Fund (USF).

The USF has donated $20 million to the Court Administration Division (CAD) to support upgrading of its information and communications technology (ICT) systems.

“Through this support, the Universal Service Fund is empowering our justice system and certainly augmenting the ongoing drive towards greater efficiency,” Chief Executive Officer of  the USF, Daniel Dawes, said at the ceremonial cheque presentation and signing ceremony, held at the Supreme Court on June 3.

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Hon. Daryl Vaz, also commended the efforts of the USF.

“This is yet another effort to bridge the connectivity gap, by providing Internet access for everyone,” he said.

The Minister added that the court systems have been significantly disadvantaged by the lack of digitisation and technology.

He said his Ministry intends to usher Jamaica into an era of adaptability and transformation, supported by technological advances across all sectors.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced a technological as well as a cultural shift within the operations of the court system,” he argued.

Mr. Vaz said the new mode of operation will help to reduce the volume of backlog and increase opportunities for virtual engagement, which has served to counter geographical and physical constraints regarding judicial processes.

“To date, more than 50 per cent of proceedings related to the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal have been conducted via virtual means. This shows that the modernisation of our justice system is hinged on robust technological infrastructure and strong broadband connectivity,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chief Justice, Hon. Bryan Sykes, welcomed the investment, noting that it will enhance access to justice for all citizens.

“It is more than just finding a lawyer, more than just being able to file documents, but it means, among other things, being able to be a full participant in the court proceedings and court processes, regardless of where you are in the world,” he noted.

The USF is an agency under the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology and provides ICT support to government ministries, departments and agencies.

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