South Africa: Moving Courts Online ‘Inhibits Transparency’, Says Judge Goosen

At a panel discussion on Wednesday, judges and advocates discussed the advantages of SA courts moving to virtual hearings while many struggled with unequal internet access and high data costs.

“How do you conduct an open court if everything is remote and you only have the participants [in the virtual hearing]?” asked Judge Glenn Goosen, an acting justice in the Supreme Court of Appeal, at a panel discussion on accessing justice and online courts, on Wednesday.

At the hybrid panel discussion, which had guests online and in person, hosted by the Hanns Seidel Foundation and UCT’s Democratic Governance and Rights Unit, Goosen asked: How do we ensure that we’re accountable and transparent when so many people are being excluded from what’s happening?

To address this challenge, the Eastern Cape High Court decided to record its sessions and post them on YouTube, said Goosen. The Constitutional Court also regularly posts its sessions on YouTube.

Speaking to Daily Maverick after the panel discussion, Alison Tilley, an attorney and coordinator of the Judges Matter campaign, said that the courts are based on the notion of open justice.

“They’re based on the fact that anyone can walk into the courts and hear matters; now…

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