The video feed from the CCTV cameras installed at the Sessions Court often freezes for long periods during which nothing can be recorded, because of the extreme heat in which monitoring equipment is kept, The Express Tribune has learnt.
The monitoring room, where footage from 59 cameras installed at the courts can be viewed on four LCD TV screens and recorded with four DVRs, is a small cubicle with no ventilation, said a source at the Sessions Court. The equipment is backed up by a 2,500-volt-ampere UPS, but there is no air conditioner or ventilation system there.
The source said that the CCTV cameras installed at the Sessions Court also needed to be upgraded.
“Whenever you try to zoom in on someone’s face, the picture heavily pixellates and you can’t see anything,” he said.
Thirty-six of the 59 cameras beam in footage from the courtrooms. The rest are installed in the corridors, entrance gates, the Session Judge’s building, parking area and walls. No cameras are installed on the boundary walls.
The fragility and unreliability of the recording system is especially worrying in view of recent security failures at the courts, said several lawyers.
Late last month, two brothers appearing in court as defendants in a murder trial were shot and killed in front of an additional district judge and his staff at the Sessions Court.
And last Saturday, prisoners in handcuffs tried to attack a judicial magistrate in his courtroom at the District Court.
“It’s very distressing considering the poor security situation,” said a lawyer about the recording difficulties.
Twenty-nine additional district and sessions judges work at the Sessions Court, including 10 that are conducting trials for murder or other serious offences.
Sessions Court superintendent Muhammad Arif Chaudhry said that the concerns about the repeated freezing of the security footage in the monitoring room had been reported to the sessions judge.
He said that air conditioners would be installed in the room within three days. He said that he would inform the judge of the concerns about the quality of the cameras.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2011.
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