Records management and good governance & accountability
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Records management and good governance & accountability - an assessment study performed within the courts of Sana’a, Yemen, June 2010. Olav Hagen Sataslåtten Assistant Director General The National Archives of Norway. Framework:.

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Records management and good governance & accountability -an assessment study performed within the courts of Sana’a, Yemen, June 2010

Olav Hagen Sataslåtten

AssistantDirector General

The National ArchivesofNorway


  • Assignment on behalf of The International Records Management Trust in London

  • Timespan: 2 weeks – May 2010

  • Access points: The Yemeni Ministry of Justice, the Court of Appeal and The Commercial Court in Sana’a

Objectives of the study
Objectives of the study:

The Yemeni Ministry of Justice wanted to ensurethat the electronic documentation system of the courts was achieving the following goals;

  • Improving court administration

  • Giving accountability through more accurate record management of court cases

  • Reduce case processing time

  • Improve access to case information

  • Create a more transparent court system that reduces possibilities for corruption.

Key approaches
Key approaches:

  • Assessment of system functionality

  • Basic requirements

  • System structure

  • Document capturing functionality and accountability

  • Search ability

  • Access control & security management

  • Database integrity


  • System originally developed by the UNDP in the late 1990s.

  • The UN as an organization bases its standard on the International Standard for Records Management.

  • Report attempted to clarify through practical demonstration to which extent system is in accordance with principles of records management as regulated in the ISO 15489.


  • The system is a combination of records management module and case processing module.

  • It’s specially designed to keep track of paper based documentation, but it also has a document producing module

  • Documentation such as minutes of court proceedings and hearings and the verdicts are produced within the system.

  • The system lacks a scanning module, although this is being developed by the system department of the MOJ at present and will be implemented shortly.

Hybrid environment
Hybrid environment

  • The assessment attempted to target the relationship between the electronic system and the paper based files in terms of registration and physical movements of files.

  • It has to a certain degree addressed the issue of access to the physical archives, and also attempted to assess to what extent functionality is being used in to register the bringing in and out of files of the archives, and by whom.

Key points
Key points:

  • Registration of documents is in itself an act which safeguards accountability.

  • The act of making data available to citizens and inspection authorities vouches for an even more transparent judicial system.

Inspection clarified the following points
Inspection clarified the following points:

  • The ERMS has parameters that link the record with the creators of them, both on an organizational (unit) and individual (secretary) level.

  • The ERMS has categories and sub-categories that link the records to the case handling context

The erms

  • allows a configuration option which prevents registrations from being deleted or moved by any administrative or user role.

  • has classification and indexing structure ensuring adequate linking, grouping, naming and access control (in terms of user permissions and retrieval).

  • is arranged in a logical structure and governs logical step - by – step sequences.

  • has techniques of registration which provide evidence of the existence of physical records.

Other features
Other features:

  • Unique identifications

  • Information on which unit has registered the document and registered metadata, and when it happened.

  • Metadata regarding structure; information about type of document, its relation to other documents and to the various levels in the records structure (hierarchical information).

  • Metadata data regarding context; which unit, process and activity has created the document, which personnel and which units has participated in that activity; data regardingwhen the document was created, sent, received etc

  • Metadata regarding content, for instance document titles and descriptions

  • Metadata for retrieval, including keywords and index terms.

  • Place of storage (which electronic archive or databse)

  • Electronic archival responsibility

  • Rights to access and concealment of information (access control).


  • Regarding following up on case handling processing time, monitoring of backlogs and so forth: the system can use parameters to generate reports based on time intervals and cases lacking court decision.


  • There are no written guidelines

  • Instructions regarding which data should be entered into the system are based on oral instructions in the courts.

  • The parameters of the system itself are fixed, and based on a step- by- step registration model

  • its self-explanatory which data needs to be inserted.

  • Entries covering areas such as names of subjects, court units, judges allocated to each case etc follow a designated pattern.


  • A lack of tuition in registration procedures could eventually lead to random registrations.

  • If the court personnel are not taught how to extract the relevant passages from documents, this could lead to a more or less systematic omitting of case-related information.

System for statistics
System for statistics

  • Interview with the manger of Technical Administration Department in the MOJ revealed that they are developing the electronic case handling system in five stages.

  • Level 1 and 2 are so far implemented.

  • 1.Basic data

  • 2. Sessions and verdicts

  • 3. Inspection

  • 4. Statistics

  • 5. Announcements

Access to information
Access to information

  • Interviews with both citizens and lawyers at the Commercial Court and the Court of Appeal proves that the introduction of electronic case management has significantly improved access to information. Key aspects are:

  • -citizens and lawyers actually receive printouts of case documentation, as well as information related to the cases

  • -citizens and lawyers need to relate to fewer staff members

Information management
Information management

  • There are lcd monitors placed in the entrance halls of the courts, inorfming about the daily proceedings

Analysis of the system objectives
Analysis of the system objectives

  • The system objectives can be summed up in the term Good Governance.

  • Assessment of whether the system objectives have been met or not had to be based on interviews with persons that has a relation to the processes the system are meant to assist and manage.

  • Issues such as decrease in corruption and increase in transparency are almost impossible to monitor based on system auditing alone.

Decrease in corruption and increase in transparency
Decrease in corruption and increase in transparency.

  • All citizens and lawyers interviewed on stated in unison that introduction of the electronic system has led to a decrease in corruption and an increase in transparency.

  • Citizens and lawyers stated that in the electronic courts it is now impossible to bribe the personnel of the courts.

  • Any manipulation of data such as removal, erasing or adding of information would be obvious to everyone, and this prevents employees from doing it.


  • All interviewed citizens said that the introduction of the system has contributed to better access to case information.

  • The entire range of interviewed citizen also stated that the system has led to a significant decrease in corruption.

  • They also praised the fact that they now only have to relate to one office to get the information they require. Previously they had to address a large number of employees in order to get any kind of information.


  • The correct combination of search parameters trigger search results that give precise evidence of case handling time in each registered case, how many unfinished cases there are within a district and an overview of court cases related to each judge and each judicial area.