An initiative on citizen’s access to justice and peaceful dispute resolution is expected to be extended after its activities evaluation showed that many Rwandans citizens are eager to know more about their rights and laws.
The ‘Ubu-Ituze Iwacu’ was implemented by the consortium composed of RCN Justice and Democracy in partnership with the Kingdom of Netherlands, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Ministry of Justice and local justice actors such as Haguruka, Lawyers of Hope among others.
The project was implemented in seven districts of Kicukiro, Nyanza, Karongi, Rutsiro, Ngoma, Kayonza and Nyabihu reaching citizens through legal aid clinics, mediation services and community dialogues, and justice caravans (to educate the community).
An evaluation of the four year ‘Ubu-Ituze Iwacu’ project presented to stakeholders this December 14 showed that the many citizens were interested in community dialogues on justice with over 8,723 citizens (96.7%) reached against the targeted 9,021.
The project objectives evaluation showed that recipients were interested in the access to proximity justice and saw it as a relevant program because it gave them knowledge, access to legal aid and information and cases executed during the project were satisfactory.
“This means that they (beneficiaries) got to know their rights, functioning of the proximity justice system as well as community based conflict resolution mechanisms,” said a Lead consultant who compiled the evaluation report.
Some of the beneficiaries said that the project outreach programs helped them to take steps towards reconciliation, manage succession issues, land and family based conflicts by themselves without having to go through the legal process. also the succession issues resolved outside court.
Project findings also showed that there was a lack of knowledge and skills in using the electronic justice system for both the users and the citizens as many have difficulties with technology skills.
Jean-Chrysostome Rubagumya, the RCN Country Coordinator said that the project, which cost Rwf2.4billion, was successful and they plan to extend it to other districts to have a bigger impact.
“There is a lot of work to be done and if we can do this for the next ten years or more, it would be good because the journey is long and education on rights to justice is an ongoing activity,” Rubagumya said.
Frank Mugabo, the Ministry of Justice Director of Access to Justice Coordination Unit said that the findings are extensive but also open to criticism or review to understand the issues raised.
Mugabo also asked that RCN consults other institutions to give their inputs into the findings so as to pave the way for improvement in the report but also in areas of concern raised especially in alternative dispute resolutions.
“We want to have alternative dispute resolution as a way of reducing delays in justice and case backlogs. We already have the policy in place and are now planning on its implementation,” Mugabo said.