The AV equipment that has already been installed in 78 court rooms in 19 courts island-wide includes, desktop computers, microphones, amplifiers, mixers, TV cameras, BluRay disc players along with special supporting software. They were purchased under the EU-funded Justice, Security, Accountability and Transparency (JSAT) Project to the tune of 1.8 million euro or J$250 million.
Access to the technology in the courts facilitates a range of benefits, including the possibility to view and playback electronic evidence, record court proceedings real-time, digitize documents and facilitate testimonies from remote locations.
"I am particularly pleased by the direct benefits that will result for vulnerable witnesses who will be able to give statements remotely. This is a significant contribution to witness protection – of which we can all be proud," said EU Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska as she addressed the small gathering for the handover ceremony at the St Catherine Parish Court in Spanish Town on June 26.
The potential efficiency gains are aligned with the Government's stated intention to provide Jamaica with a modern Justice System and the Strategic Business Plan for the Jamaican Judiciary 2019 -2023, which envisions Jamaica's judicial system becoming the best in the Caribbean within three years and one of the best in the world within six years.
"This is a clear signal that the Government of Jamaica is intent on providing the necessary resources to assist in achieving fair, timely and efficient resolution of cases as we journey towards a first class Justice System," said Justice Minister Delroy Chuck.
Minister Chuck mentioned another output under JSAT - an Electronic Case Management System which has been installed and is now being pilot tested. It will help to manage jury selection, case flow and docketing, case scheduling, digital recording to expedite production of transcript and integration with the audio recording system.
Chief Justice Bryan Sykes, for his part, said given the restrictions of COVID-19, the AV equipment in the courts has significantly helped to minimize the impact of the pandemic on the operations of the courts .
JSAT focuses on strengthening governance and oversight in the functioning of the security and justice sectors for improved efficiencies and access to justice, particularly for the vulnerable.