Published in the 16th Edition of the Pretoria Law Student Review under the special section on "Law and Technology" is an article by our co-founder, Zahra Hosaneea, entitled "A case for persons with disabilities: Using digital courts to promote the rule of law". The article draws its inspiration from the emergence of the so-called "digital courts" during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The article discusses the right to access to justice, a cornerstone of the rule of law, both generally and under the CRPD. In summary, it highlights and develops on the following points:
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development seeks to, amongst other things, promote the rule of law and ensure equal access to justice, promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions.
As a marginalised group, persons with disabilities are often spectators to their grievances when accessing justice, notwithstanding the strong protection afforded by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (‘the CRPD’).
Under the CRPD, the right to access justice requires justice to be accessible, practical, and without discrimination. Nonetheless, research indicates that persons with disabilities are most likely to be left out of the legal system as there are numerous barriers that prevent them from accessing justice.
Article 13 of the CRPD contains essential provisions on the right to access justice. If designed, tested, and implemented correctly, digital courts could alleviate the inequalities faced by persons with disabilities.
In essence, digital courts have the potential to make justice accessible and less hostile whilst also improving the communication and information barriers to the right to access justice.
However, the advantages should not outweigh the potential exclusionary risk that digital courtrooms could create. Such courtrooms should be carefully implemented in close consultation with persons with disabilities.
The full contents of the PSLR 2022 is available on https://www.pulp.up.ac.za/journals/pretoria-student-law-review-2022-16