USAID donates another 25 sets of equipment for video conferences, thus supporting the efforts to modernize Moldovan courts
The Government of the United States of America continues to support the modernization of the justice sector in the Republic of Moldova. Another25 video conferencing systems were purchased (151,790 US dollars worth) and installed, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Transparent Justice Program. Previously, the program offered 20 sets for the headquarters of all courts and a video conference set to the Superior Council of Magistracy, with a total value of 131,300 US dollars.
In addition to equipment donations, in September-October 2020, experts from the USAID Transparency Justice Program instructed the representatives of the secondary offices of the courts on the correct use of videoconferencing equipment for conducting remote court hearings.
For the first time, the videoconferencing application was piloted in Moldovan courts and penitentiaries in November 2018. Since then and until now, approximately 8,500 remote court hearings have been held, meanwhile the authorities saved over 5 million Moldovan lei for transporting and escorting detainees to court hearings.
Videoconferencing has proven to be an indispensable solution that has allowed the continued functioning of the justice sector in exceptional situations, such as that caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the state of emergency, established between March 17 and May 15, 2020, the courts held more than 800 court hearings on a case-by-case basis on the most pressing cases.
Subsequently, after the introduction of the state of emergency in public health, the number of court hearings held remotely increased significantly, following legislative changes that allowed the examination by videoconference of all criminal cases with detainees. Thus, between May 16 and October 23, 2020, over 6,000 court hearings were held by videoconference.
The videoconference helped the authorities to prevent the spread of the infection in the courts and penitentiary institutions, while ensuring the respect for rights of persons deprived of their liberty, by not allowing long delays in examining their cases.
At the same time, the USAID Transparent Justice Program has developed a feasibility study on extending the concept of videoconferencing, which contains a number of recommendations and guidelines for the widespread use of videoconferencing in the examination of several categories of cases. The proposals also aim to amend the legislation and establish video conferencing centers in several public entities in Moldova, which will allow litigants to attend court hearings, regardless of their physical location.
We remind that the USAID Program for Transparent Justice provides technical and methodological assistance to the Moldovan judiciary starting with 2017. Implementation of the new Integrated Case Management Program, updating of the new National Court Portal and modernization of the Superior Council of The Magistracy and the Court Administration are just some of the major achievements of supporting the USAID Transparent Justice Program.
During the implementation of the USAID Transparent Justice Program, the assistance provided by the American people for the modernization of Moldovan courts amounted to 7.5 million US dollars.