NYARUGENGE - An international conference on the impact of the country’s judicial reforms opened yesterday at Hotel des Mille Collines in Kigali. The three-day conference was called to take stock of judicial reforms for further improvement.
The guest of honour, Prime Minister Bernard Makuza, underscored the importance of the reforms and the conference. He said that the past judicial system suffered from the absence of qualified personnel, violation of the principle of independent judiciary, out-dated laws and lack of willingness to modernise.
He said the final blow came in 1994 when some magistrates were killed, while and others participated in the Genocide. Participants are identifying successful areas and the challenges that need to be urgently addressed.
“In 1994, the country was affected by the Genocide, all infrastructure of governance were destroyed and this was not limited to institutions normally charged with the execution of Government projects but it also included the judiciary,” Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama told participants.
The conference is the third of its kind following the ones held in 2001 and 2002.
Karugarama stressed that after the war and Genocide, one of the country’s major challenges was the restoration of the justice sector.
The minister said the reforms were due to the challenge of re-establishing justice, and thus law and order.
“Rwanda introduced new reforms – bringing in new legal structures in the justice sector,” he said, and referred to the current judicial set-up as: “something Rwandan in nature, something you can’t find anywhere else.”
“This (the conference) is a form of accountability – we want your input,” he told participants drawn from different countries.
Countries represented at the conference include the US, Canada, France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, the UK, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Also represented are the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International, African Rights and the East African Court of Justice.
According to Karugarama, so much has been achieved, but so much more remained to be done.