Rwandan local mediators have vowed to reduce the cases going to formal courts by 95% before 2020, as the country boosts the justice of proximity.
Commonly known as “Abunzi”, local mediators who are honest people chosen by communities to volunteer in settling their conflicts have managed to conclude 80% of the cases they are entitled to rule on.
The mediators have power to solve conflicts whose value does not exceed Rwf 5 million.
Their committee of seven meets once a week at cell level to hear cases while another of the same number also meets at sector level to hear cases in appeal.
“We already managed to solve 80% of the work log last year. The target is to have all cases coming to us solved to a level of 100%, but we have given ourselves a feasible target; to improve by 5% every year,” said Odette Yankurije in charge of Access to justice department at Ministry of Justice.
In the last fiscal year, local mediators received 47,966 cases. Of them, 44.679 were solved.
In a training that was intended for local mediators on August 16, Hugo Moudiki Jombwe, coordinator of RCN Justice & Démocratie- a non-government organization that promotes justice of proximity indicated, “local mediators are indispensable; they solve conflicts much quicker and prevent citizens from delaying into litigation.”
According to the 2015 judicial report, a case spends 129 days between the filing and the ruling date at primary court, and 95 days at the intermediate court.
One would wait for more 252 days if the case is referred to High court and 1,068 days at Supreme Court.
It takes only two weeks to have a case concluded by mediators, according to Isabelle Kalihangabo, the Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Justice.