Setting the law free

A few days ago, I read an article on the Sunday Times website about an integrated electronic document system in a pilot phase at 36 regional courts in the Durban area. In South Africa it is a very common problem that files "get lost" when suspects are supposed to appear in court. Ours being a civilised legal system, sloppy paper work leads to findings of innocence. The expansion of the Durban project to the rest of the country will - one hopes - go some way to addressing these problems. While browsing Breaking Barriers: The Potential of Free and Open Source Software for Sustainable Human Development - A Compilation of Case Studies from Across the World this evening I chanced upon an article describing the JuriBurkina project, supported in part by software developed at Canadian universities, for providing free access to court decisions and other documentation in Burkina Faso. The Burkina project uses mainly free and open source software in the interest of sustainability and affordability. There is a similar project, the Southern African Legal Information Institute, in our part of the world, also supporting the Montreal Declaration on Free Access to Law which includes the laudable
Public legal information is digital common property and should be accessible to all on a non-profit basis and free of charge;

among its stipulations. After all, the taxpayer has already paid for it once!

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