Malawians will have a chance to analyse the local justice delivery system through their smartphones following the launch of an Open Trial smartphone and tablet application in the country.
Chief executive of UK-based NGO OpenTrial, Frank Richardson, presented the app and demonstrated its functionality to the Malawian media at Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA) offices in Blantyre on Wednesday.
Malawi will be the first country to use the App in the world, but Richardson is optimistic that the tool will produce intended results.
According to Richardson, keeping legal system players under open, public scrutiny, encourages integrity, independence, diligence, equality and impartiality – qualities essential for justice.
Richardson said the OpenTrial smartphone App, which is in its pilot phase, is designed to assist trial monitors and aims at improving the delivery of justice by holding the legal system to account.
The application, which has been designed in both English and Chichewa, will allow Malawians to ascertain where their legal system needs improving.
Noted Richardson: “The App has three functions: one is to inform people of their basic rights with regards to fair trials and detentions, the other is a checklist that people can use to determine whether their friends or family members or detainees have been detained legally and that the trial was constitutional, the third is the reporting function. ”
“So, those who feel something is not quite right and feel that their rights have been violated, can report of that to us through the App and then we will gather the data.”
He said the data collected will be analysed to determine “whether there are flaws in the legal system and then let the government and various NGOs have the data so that they can focus their efforts on correcting those flaws if they wish to”.
CHREAA executive director Victor Mhango commended Open Trial for deciding to launch and pilot the application in Malawi, saying the tool will assist many people, especially those who have access to the internet, to participate in correcting many flaws in the country’s legal system.
Mhango added CHREAA, together with other partners, will also engage the media to reach out to those who do not have access to the internet.
“We considered that not all people have smartphones and access to the internet, so we are planning to use other means like dramas and jingles and many other mass media so that we reach out many,” said Mhango.
The OpenTrial smartphone app project in Malawi is being implemented with support from various organisations including Solicitors International Human Rights Group in London, International Bridges to Justice, and the
Transparency International, the Hague Institute of the Law, Amnesty International and Lawyers Without Borders.
CHREAA is facilitating the project in Malawi.
The OpenTrial organisation has been widely recognised for harnessing modern technology to open the legal system up to scrutiny.
The app can be downloaded free from Google Store.
The OpenTrial NGO applies a four-pronged approach towards the legal system. The first is System Lexposé which aimed at harnessing modern technology to advance legal system transparency for societal accountability, engagement and locally initiated ownership and reform.
The second and third approaches are Court monitoring which involves conducting court monitoring to engage the public to improve justice systems, holding justice systems to account, and promoting an open and transparent court process and Policing Officials which involves advancinglegal system accountability by means of consolidating legislation in countries around the world to bring miscreant judges, police and prosecutors to account, while also guaranteeing judicial independence.
The final approach is Extra-territorialism which aims at advancing legal system accountability by monitoring the conduct of companies and individuals operating in the developing world and covered by extra-territorial anti-corruption legislation.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :