Improving access to justice through information and communication technologies (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1201)

This reports identifies how information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been used to improve access to justice in developing countries.

Abstract

Query

Identify how information and communication technologies – including but not limited to mobile phone technology – have been used to improve access to justice in developing countries.

Key Findings

  • Legal empowerment aims to enable citizens to actively use the law and shape it to their needs. Examples of awareness-raising and legal education initiatives using ICTs include: using television and radio talk shows to build links between the formal and informal justice systems; broadcasting documentaries on local television stations to promote gender equality; etc.
  • Many justice systems have limited resources and capacity to provide information on rights and services. Examples of capacity building initiatives using ICTs include: the launching of a judicial website; training staff on how to include all citizens in justice initiatives; etc.
  • In many countries basic information about legal rights or how justice institutions work is not publicly available. Examples of providing legal information using ICTs include: using SMS-based initiatives to inform citizens of legal rights; using SMS-based judicial information systems to notify citizens and lawyers of court dates; etc.
  • Where justice institutions are limited, legal aid and community paralegals provide services, Examples of ICT Initiatives to support legal aid and community paralegals include: using radio and television programmes to publicise available legal services.
  • People living in remote areas are often unable to access state justice institutions. Examples of using ICTs to link up remote areas include: using mobile phones to collect and transmit evidence to courts; providing a free-phone number to contact the police; etc.
  • Non-recognition of legal identity is a key obstacle to access to justice as it is often needed when claiming entitlements. Examples of initiatives that register legal identity using ICTs include: using portable registration kits to issue photo ID cards in remote areas; using SMS-technology to gather registration information; etc.
  • Managing and resolving disputes through non-state dispute resolution mechanisms can help resolve disputes quicker and reduce the pressure on state resources. Examples of using ICTs in dispute resolution include: providing low-cost mobile tools linking up informal and formal justice institutions; and using SMS-technology and GPS to manage land boundary disputes.

Citation

Herbert, S. Improving access to justice through information and communication technologies (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1201). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2015) 10 pp.

Improving access to justice through information and communication technologies (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1201)

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