A romanticised blog by Tako Kobakhidze submitted back in 2017, introduced me to the digital transformation that has occurred at Yasamal District Court of Baku City in the Republic of Azerbaijan. The court, operational since June 2017, is one of the pioneer “smart courts” that were designed and built as part of the Judicial Services and Smart Infrastructure Project – a World Bank-supported project designed to improve access, transparency, and efficiency in the delivery of selected justice services in Azerbaijan.
The Project will comprise four components:
- Judicial service delivery improvements (e-services)
- Strengthening institutional capacity (training)
- Expansion and modernisation of justice infrastructure
- Project management and coordination
In terms of training, learning sessions take place at Court and judges are required to sit tests and exams. In the words of Judge Ramin Gurbanov, “education equals independence”. In this same vain, Azerbaijan is sharing their learning with their neighbours, as part of a wider effort to be seen as one of the leaders in the region in Information Technology and its application to a variety of sectors. Azerbaijan is also partnering with the Slovenian Supreme Court, to launch an application to automate the filing and processing of small-value high-volume civil enforcement cases.
Little information is available on the back-end or how the system was developed. Will keep ears and eyes peeled as it is these types of developments that will hopefully tackle concerns that Azerbaijan’s embryonic democracy is under threat.