Effectiveness of Electronic Justice during the Pandemic (An Evaluation Report)12 August, 2020
On August 8, 2020, Rights Georgia published an Evaluation Report on the Effectiveness of Electronic Justice during the Pandemic.
The main objective of the research was to evaluate the effectiveness of the courts’ online services and electronic hearings.
In the first half of 2020, the modern world faced a new challenge in the form of the Covid-19 pandemic that had emerged at the end of 2019 and spread across 213 countries within 6 months. As of 21 July 2020, there were 14,774,887 confirmed cases and 6,115,999 deceased throughout the world.
Georgia was not immune from the pandemic either. While the country was less affected in terms of the spread of the virus, the pandemic had its impact on almost every field of everyday life, including justice.
The Decree of the President of Georgia, issued on 21 March 2020, declared an emergency in the country and restricted a number of civil rights. While the restrictions did not apply to the right to a fair trial, the presidential decree gave preference to online participation of parties in court proceedings. Corresponding changes were made to the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia and the HCoJ adopted a set of recommendations aimed at contributing to the safe administration of justice during the pandemic.
This new reality affected the administration of justice throughout the country: a significant number of court hearings were adjourned and the rest continued with the online participation of parties; movement in court buildings was restricted and the public nature of court hearings was restricted as well. While online hearings ensured administration of justice in urgent cases, they also gave rise to the worsening of the quality of justice and breach of court users’ rights. Under those circumstances, where the delay in court proceedings was a systemic problem, adjournment of hearings during the pandemic was bound to worsen this problem.
Since May 2020, Rights Georgia is implementing “Monitoring Electronic Justice during Emergency” project with the support of the Promoting Rule of Law in Georgia Activity (PROLoG) carried by the East-West Management Institute with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funding. The project aims at evaluating the effectiveness of e-justice through interviewing court users, monitoring online hearings and developing corresponding recommendations.