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Politicians to vote on live-streaming court cases

Politicians to vote on live-streaming court cases

Thursday 16 April 2020

Politicians to vote on live-streaming court cases


A politician concerned that the Jersey may be breaking human rights laws is pushing for court cases to be made available for the public to watch online.

Deputy Montfort Tadier, Chairman of the Jersey Human Rights Group, says he is concerned Jersey's Courts might be breaching the laws due to the public being unable to attend or view the proceedings that would be in open session were it not for the covid-19 pandemic.

Since late March, the public gallery in Jersey's courts has been closed to help reduce the spread of covid-19 and to comply with the government's lockdown order.

Many cases are instead being heard using video conferencing technology - the Magistrate's Court this week sentenced offenders from their homes for the first time ever - but members of the public are unable to tune in, although the news media are. 

In response, Deputy Tadier has put forward proposals to rectify the issue by live-streaming the proceedings on a “publicly-accessible website”.

This, he argues, should uphold defendants' right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

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Pictured: Deputy Montfort Tadier chairs the Jersey Human Rights Group.

Reflected in Jersey’s Human Rights Law, the article states that “everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing in the determination of his/her civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him/her".

If agreed by politicians, live-streaming could be up and running by the end of May.

In a report outlining his proposals, Deputy Tadier says he understands that the “normal workings” of all branches of the state have needed to adapt for Health and Safety reasons due to the current virus crisis.

“However, this does not mean that reasonable steps should not be taken to ensure the public interest, in this case, the maintenance of publicly viewable court proceedings and a guarantee of people’s Human Rights under Jersey law,” he explained.

Deputy Tadier went on to refer to the States Assembly, which, in addition to being broadcast on radio since September 1986, has been live-streaming its proceedings for the past four years.

And earlier this month, the States Assembly reached another milestone.

It made history by becoming the first parliament in the Commonwealth to hold a meeting and pass laws 'virtually'.

The historic meeting, which was streamed online, was made possible thanks to work between Digital Jersey and the States Greffe. 

Deputy Tadier also suggested courts publish an equivalent of the States Assembly’s hansard – a complete written record of everything that Members say during question time, statements and debates in the Assembly.

“It is not satisfactory, even at a time of pandemic, that court hearings which would otherwise be public, now be inaccessible,” Deputy Tadier said.

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Pictured: The States Assembly held its first virtual meeting on 2 April.

“Technology easily allows Court proceedings to be live-streamed, in the same way that States Assembly and scrutiny panel meetings are broadcast."

Deputy Tadier's idea will be put to a vote on 21 April.

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