A new set of videoconferencing equipment, installed at the Buiucani Courthouse (Chisinau District Court)
The Government of the United States of America continues to support the modernization of the justice sector in the Republic of Moldova. Another 25 videoconferencing systems, with the value of 151,790 USD, were purchased and installed in every district courts secondary location by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Open Justice Project. Previously, the Project purchased and installed 20 video conferencing sets in the main locations of all Moldovan courts, and one set in the Superior Council of Magistracy (total value was 131,300 USD).
In addition to equipment donations, in September-October 2020, the experts from the USAID’s Open Justice Project have trained the representatives of the secondary district court locations on the proper 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, approximately 8.500 remote court hearings have been conducted, with the authorities saving over 5 million Moldovan lei on transporting and escorting detainees to court hearings.
Videoconferencing has proved to be an indispensable solution that kept the justice sector operational in exceptional circumstances, such as the one caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the state of emergency, introduced between March 17, 2020 and May 15, 2020, the courts conducted remotely over 800 court hearings on the most pressing cases.
Subsequently, after the introduction of the state of emergency in public health, the number of remote court hearings increased significantly, due to legislative amendments that enabled the examination by videoconference of all criminal cases. Thus, between May 16, 2020 and October 23, 2020, more than 6.000 court hearings were conducted by videoconference.
Thus, the videoconferencing equipment helped the authorities prevent the spread of the infection in the courts and penitentiary institutions, while ensuring that the rights of individuals deprived of their liberty are respected, by not allowing long delays in examining their cases.
At the same time, the USAID’s Open Justice Project 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 videoconferencing centers in several public entities in Moldova, which will allow litigants to attend court hearings, regardless of where they are located.
The USAID’s Open Justice Project provides technical and methodological assistance to the judiciary in the Republic of Moldova since 2017. The implementation of the new Integrated Case Management System, the upgrade of new Courts’ Web Portal, as well as the modernization of the websites of the Superior Council of Magistracy and the Agency for Court Administration are just some of the major achievements obtained with support from USAID’s Open Justice Project.
Over the life of the Open Justice Project, the assistance from the American people has amounted to USD 7.5 million for the modernization of Moldova’s courts.