April 01, 2014

Case Database System Increases Congolese Courts’ Efficiency

April 2014

 

Continuing its efforts to help improve the criminal justice system in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) in December 2013 introduced an innovative online case database system in the High Court of Goma, North Kivu, with support from the MacArthur Foundation.

 

The new database has made it easier to locate, catalog and manage case files, saving participating courts hours of labor.

Since 2010, ABA ROLI has successfully implemented the database in 50 courts located in the provinces of South Kivu, North Kivu and Maniema. The Goma court is among the latest eastern DRC courts to benefit from the database, which was designed to help judges, clerks and prosecutors manage case information and statistics more effectively, and ultimately to promote the delivery of quality justice. ABA ROLI provides the courts with the necessary equipment and trains court personnel to ensure optimal use of the system.

Claver Kahasa, a judge from the Goma court, said that the case database is a unique tool for providing instant and easy access to case statistics. In preparation of the database’s implementation in the Goma court, Kahasa—along with 14 of his colleagues—participated in several ABA ROLI-organized trainings in 2013. ABA ROLI database managers support Kahasa and his colleagues as they use the system on a daily basis. Kahasa, who serves as the Congolese government’s point person for technology initiatives in courts, said that he is enthusiastic about the database and the use of technology to improve the administration of justice. The new system has made it easier, he said, to locate, catalog and manage case files, saving participating courts hours of labor.

Prior to the introduction of the case management system, clerks had to organize case files manually, which often led to data loss or mislabeling. Kahasa said that he was not always able to find the information required to write a report or to respond to a defendant’s inquiry. Thanks to the database, he said, it now takes him only a couple of minutes to access relevant case data when he needs to gather case statistics and prepare reports for the Ministry of Justice. The database also greatly reduces the risk of case files being misplaced or lost.

The system has helped the courts serve citizens better. Kahasa said that the system is bridging the gap between the court and defendants who can now request and receive case information in a timely manner.

To learn more about our work, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org.