Stakeholders in Justice, Reconciliation, Law and Order Sector (JLOS), last week, converged in Rubavu District for the sixth peer review retreat and devised ways to meet this year’s activity theme, “Toward an effective and professional justice service delivery.”
Chief Justice Sam Rugege urged the JLOS stakeholders to espouse accountability, transparency, Rwandan identity, unity and patriotism, among other values, to win public trust.
He commended the progress made so far and called for the best possible service.
“Our country has made strides in the justice sector, access to justice has improved, case backlogs reduced, crimes are decreasing and workers are professional. This doesn’t mean we are perfect though. We haven’t achieved desired standard in service delivery. Let’s strive to deliver quick but also effective service by upholding excellence in what we do,” he said.
“Each one should know their weaknesses and make improvements. We should not tolerate misappropriation of public funds, corruption and other crimes that jeopardise the progress of the country. Justice plays a pivotal role in development and reduction of poverty.”
Achievements at a glance
From resolutions of the past retreat, JLOS noted several achievements, including strengthening of measures to recover public assets that saw recovery of Rwf879.8 million (41 per cent) out of Rwf2.1 billion in public funds by February 2017, and handling of 96.2 per cent of embezzlement cases received in 2015/16.
As of December 2016, 535 indictments were sent to countries hosting fugitives. At least 14 million out of 60 million Gacaca documents were digitalised by February 2017. To reinforce judgment execution, professional bailiffs were increased from 305 in September 2016 to 405 in October 2016.
Case backlogs were also reduced from 42 per cent in 2012 to 32 per cent as of December 2016.
Justice minister Johnston Busingye lauded the achievements but emphasised that the journey towards an effective and professional justice sector is still long.
“Is the way we conduct investigations, sentencing, prosecution, prisoners’ rehabilitation appropriate? Do we have appropriate measures to deter existing and emerging crimes? We need to collectively build a strong justice sector that the future generations will enjoy,” he said.
“We need to fashion our contributions toward the achievements of the Sustainable Development Goals and Vision 2050 by adopting effective and professional justice service delivery.”
The meeting agreed to devise measures to track down and arrest individuals convicted by Gacaca courts so that they serve their sentences, spur judgment execution of Gacaca cases, improve recovery of public funds, among others.
Some of the participants who spoke to The New Times said the retreat was an opportunity to bridge gaps and identify areas for improvement.