In a significant milestone for the Ethiopian legal landscape, the Federal Supreme Court, in collaboration with the Ethiopian Artificial Intelligence Institute, has unveiled a transformative “smart court system.” These advancements promise to revolutionize the Ethiopian judicial system, as aptly stated by Solomon Merkebu, the Federal Supreme Court Smart Systems Manager: “The smart court system has brought four new advancements to the current procedures of the federal Supreme Court, namely: the smart digital information desk, the AI/smart chat bot for customer service complaints, digital audiovisual recording including web cam live feed, and lastly, audio transcription.” (Source: Interview with Solomon Merkebu, the Federal Supreme Court Smart Systems Manager, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M571ESqKlKI, January 13, 2024.)
Among other things, the smart information desk system can be accessed via one’s phone from home or even in the court venue to follow up on cases, appointments, adjournments, etc., and customers or parties aggrieved with the court proceeding can now easily provide a customer service complaint on the smart chatbot via a telegram bot, and the complaint will be posted on each individual supreme court’s office department’s dashboard.
With regards to digital audiovisual recordings and live webcam systems, it is presumed that their application will guarantee clarity of proceedings, equipment equality, and accountability. It will also be helpful in interacting with people who are not present in court but are essential for the proceeding, like witnesses, expert analysts, etc., via the webcam live feed.
At the end of every proceeding, every bit of the court proceeding will be drafted into words via the audio-transcription system. The artificial intelligence institute stated that around 6044 audio logs were used to enable this system. The institute also stated that this system will increase the speed of proceedings, as most drafting and audio transcribing work will be done and proofread by the end of the day. (Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tlufma39O4s)
Photo Source: Federal Supreme Court, Communication Directorate