Promoting openness and access to justice
Given the growing number of citizens’ petitions to the civil courts in the past five years in Uzbekistan, the need to improve the accessibility and efficiency of court proceedings - enabling a timely review of cases and improved citizen feedback mechanism, has become apparent.
“E-SUD” e-justice system allows for a quick and cost-effective case filing process. Upon registration, court users receive access to the complete case file, an option to track the case progress as well as access to court’s decision and interim rulings. In the meantime, the judges improve their workload thanks to the expedited case processing and document templates.
“I have two kids. As I was in a need for financial support I filed a claim for alimony to Zangiota interdistrict civil court,” – says Shakhlo Yunusova. “The court reviewed my case very quickly and issued a decision. I was surprised, because I have been told that this is a very lengthy process. Here, I have also found out that I could file the claim on-line”.
“E-SUD” was first piloted by the Supreme Court of Uzbekistan and UNDP at Zangiota inter-district civil court in the end of 2013.
“The system is functioning 24/7. Users can register from their home computers, as long as they have Internet access. Upon successful registration on-line, citizens can file their cases and claims by attaching supporting documents. In 2014, we have issued rulings on nearly 20,000 cases out of 23,000 cases submitted electronically”, says, H.E. Judge Nodira Khakimova. “In general, during less than two years of functioning of the system, the Zangiata inter-district civil court has received more than 40 thousand electronic claims from citizens and enterprises through the "E-SUD" e-justice system”.
At the moment, the system is being scaled-up within the framework of the “Rule of Law Partnership in Uzbekistan” project – joint project of the Supreme Court, USAID and UNDP. The project has improved the system in terms of first instance civil cases, particularly developed the additional modules on the consideration of cases of adversary, appeal and special proceedings, as well as enabled the option to formulate statistical reports.
Now, citizens can file cases to first instance civil courts on-line from their homes, through their lawyer, or at the user desk set-up at the courts, thus enabling access to justice for the most vulnerable groups of population, including people with disabilities and elderly.
Three inter-district civil courts of Tashkent city, i.e. courts of Shayhontohur, Mirzo-Ulugbek and Yakkasaray inter-district courts are now ready to launch the system. The courts have been equipped and the software has been installed to cover more than 1,000,000 residents of 6 districts of Tashkent city. Judges and court personnel are sharpening their skills to use the system. To ensure the full integration of the remaining instances of the court system with E-SUD, the project is developing additional modules of the system for the courts of appellate, cassation and supervisory instances.
In the meantime to ensure sustainability of the system, the project has been supporting the legislative initiative of the Supreme Court. In fact, this year, the legislative framework has been strengthened and starting with January 1, 2016, citizens of Uzbekistan can submit their claims and petitions to court electronically through information system.