It was recently announced that the Supreme Judiciary Council (SJC) and the Ministry of Interior will start using a remote trial service. This is part of preventive measures taken by the state to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The SJC suspended sessions at the Court of Appeal, the Court of First Instance, the Labour Disputes Settlement Committee and the Rental Disputes Settlements Committee on 15 March. The Court of Cassation will remain open to consider its hearings as usual.
The remote trial service began on 2 April in the building of the Court of First Instance, using a safe and secure AV technology network under the guidance of the Communications Department at the Ministry of Interior, which has provided staff with screens and devices, alongside the Verdict Execution Department and the General Directorate of Information Systems.
The remote trials are held in the courts as per the online court system activated in November 2019, and falls under the Judicial System Development Initiative plan to prepare for the activation of remote trials, and adheres to recent instructions from the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, HE Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani regarding precautionary and preventive measures against the coronavirus.
As well as protecting all relevant parties from possible exposure to COVID-19, a good outcome of using remote trials is the time and effort saved in adjudging cases – no more scheduled court dates or arranging for the accused, lawyer and judge to all be available to attend the court room.
It is mooted that the system will be extended to allow prosecutors to conduct investigations at the time of detention and to hold trials for those being held in prison.
How it works:
The judge and prosecutor will carry out their duties remotely from their offices. The judge is in contact with the accused at the police station, and will verify his identity and hear statements.
The session is undertaken entirely online via a video call – the judge will be able to issue a decision immediately, either releasing the accused or suggesting further imprisonment. The accused may have legal representation to protect his rights if he so wishes.
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