At least 73 per cent of Rwandans are satisfied with the performance of mediation committees, locally known as Abunzi, according to a survey. The survey, jointly conducted by several local and international organisations in partnership with Ministry of Justice, was made public at a roundtable dialogue in Kigali on Thursday. It evaluated the contribution of mediation committees toward enhancing access to justice and conflict resolution in Rwanda. It indicates that there is high level of satisfaction, with at least 73 per cent of respondents contented with the role of mediation committees, though in some areas there was a feeling that some mediators are corrupt. Speaking at the roundtable dialogue, Justice minister Johnston Busingye noted that the Abunzi concept was adopted 10 years ago with the main aim of settling disputes at grassroots. “Mediation committees have played a significant role in helping citizens resolve their issues before they could escalate into serious conflicts,” he said. He commended various stakeholders for helping in the implementation of the programme. “It started as an idea but today it’s very real. Let’s keep the momentum because our citizens want their issues resolved amicably,” Busingye said. The mediation concept was adopted in 2004 to help resolve mainly land-related disputes among rural communities. The mediation committees have since helped resolve over 8,000 land-related cases, according to information from Rwandan Initiative for Sustainable Development (RISD). Currently, there are over 30, 000 mediators who constitute cell and sector mediation committees. Busingye said studies showed that mediation is affordable, accessible, understandable and people can identify with it. Annie Kairaba, the Director General of RISD, said Abunzi have won public trust for particularly playing a key role in resolving land-related disputes. “However, we call upon the government to help sort out the challenges faced by the mediation committees as shown in the report ,” she said. Some of the challenges cited are inadequate mediation skills and logistics, alleged corruption among some mediators, lack of permanent offices and transport bottlenecks for field visits. Benoît Joannette, the head of RCN Justice and Democracy, an international organisation that advocates for justice and democracy, said the contribution of mediators cannot be underestimated and what is required is more capacity building to enable them work more efficiently. Busingye urged stakeholders to reflect on the study findings and work toward addressing challenges highlighted.