Browsing 'supreme judicial council' News

Chantelle D'mello / Doha News

Court of Appeals and Cassation

Qatar residents will soon receive court verdicts via SMS and see justice delivered more promptly as the judicial system takes steps to embrace technology.

After years of complaints, the government is now planning to electronically overhaul the country’s courts, QNA reports.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC) and the Supreme Judiciary Council (SJC) signed a memorandum of understanding to this effect.

By Shabina S. Khatri

Number of court cases heard in Qatar

The move to “modernize” comes as Qatar’s courts grow more crowded than ever.

In 2015, the most recent figures available, the judiciary heard 100,000 cases, an 8 percent increase from the year before.

Morning chaos

For years, Qatar has faced pressure both at home and abroad to revamp its judicial system.

It was formed a quarter century ago when the population was less than a million people.

The lower criminal court in Al Sadd is often chaotic, with at least 50 people crowding into a courtroom to wait for their cases to be heard each morning.

Additionally, hearings often end with a postponement. This means the defendant must return to court at a later date.

And even if a trial proceeds, testimony must be given slowly, as all official notes are handwritten by a clerk sitting near the judges.

Verdicts via SMS

But some strides are being made. The Qatar Tribune reported this week that the courts have begun notifying defendants and plaintiffs about rulings via SMS.

This helps save time because people do not necessarily need to attend court hearings to hear verdicts, the newspaper said.

Pixabay

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Additionally, courts have started to digitally archive cases.

Just yesterday, the SJC published an electronic version of all the rulings made by the Court of Cassation from 2004 to 2014.

The encyclopedia is available in Arabic only and aimed at helping “facilitate research,” QNA reports.

Thoughts?

Court of Appeals

Chantelle D'mello / Doha News

Court of Appeals

Qatar’s judiciary heard nearly 100,000 cases last year, and is struggling under an ever-increasing docket amid a growing population.

The number of cases was up by about 7,000 (or 8 percent) from 2014, and 80,933 (about 80 percent) were resolved, according to the Supreme Judicial Council.

That’s on par with the clearing rate in each of the last four years, despite the increasing load.

Number of court cases heard in Qatar

By Shabina S. Khatri

Number of court cases heard in Qatar

Some of the most common types of lawsuits heard in the courts, including the lower criminal court and Court of Cassation, included check fraud, environmental issues and traffic cases, QNA reports.

In a statement, the President of the Judicial Supreme Council said that he “highly appreciated the efforts being exerted by the Magistrates and their assistants, calling on them to commit to achieve prompt and efficient resolutions.”

Overcrowding

For years, Qatar has faced pressure both at home and abroad to revamp its judicial system, which was formed a quarter century ago when the population was less than a million people.

Most mornings, the scene at the lower criminal court in Al Sadd is chaotic, with at least 50 people crowding into a courtroom to wait for their cases to be heard.

Lower criminal court in Doha

Shabina S. Khatri

Lower criminal court in Doha

Oftentimes, hearings end with a postponement, with the person again needing to appear before the court at a later date.

Even if a trial proceeds, testimony must be given slowly, as all official notes are handwritten by a clerk sitting near the judges.

Independence concerns

In addition to overcrowding, Qatar’s courts suffer from a lack of independence, making it difficult to protect the human rights of all residents, a UN official said last year.

Gabriela Knaul

Peter Kovessy

Gabriela Knaul

Following an official visit to Qatar, Gabriela Knaul, the UN’s special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, filed a report that called for more Qataris to become judges.

“Non-Qatari judges can be dismissed at any time, which renders them extremely vulnerable to pressures from any side, including from the public prosecution, lawyers and the executive,” she said.

However, she conceded that no specific cases of suspect dismissals have been reported.

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