From 2019 to the present year, a total of 4,368 cases have been resolved through civil mediation as part of the dispute resolution process. Moreover, over 250 accredited mediators have been added to the Court Mediators list. The numbers were revealed during the ongoing Alternative Dispute Resolution Symposium, which commenced on Monday, October 9, and will continue until the 13. ALSO READ: Over Rwf10bn saved through mediation mechanisms Faustin Ntezilyayo, the Chief Justice, said that mediation has proven to be a highly effective tool with a significant impact on the delivery of justice. “Since the implementation of a fully-fledged mediation scheme into the civil courts in 2019, courts have resolved over 4,368 cases with a significant amount of money registered that would have stayed in court dockets for a longer time if options for litigation were taken,” he said. ALSO READ: Mediation helps ‘offer justice, mend relations’- officials say Furthermore, he pointed out that over 250 accredited mediators were enrolled on the list of Court Mediators and some of them are getting involved in mediating cases that are referred to them. “A practice we want to implore others that have not ventured into to do so,” he said, adding that mediation in civil cases is heading towards a better path, thus increasing the efficiency and accessibility of justice in Rwanda. Harrison Mutabazi, the spokesperson for the courts, emphasised the significance of the current numbers. However, he also highlighted the necessity for increased awareness moving forward, in order to foster a shift in people's mind-set regarding this specific judicial system. He said, “More awareness is needed. People need to know that this is very useful, and most of the cases resolved through mediation were well-executed efforts, among other benefits.” A judiciary report released in 2022 indicated that the monetary value of cases that were successfully resolved through mediation rather than litigation amounted to over Rwf11 billion. ALSO READ: Are lawyers blocking mediation efforts? In some cases, lawyers have been reported to obstruct the progress of the initiative, often arguing that it would lead to job losses. However, speaking to The New Times, Moise Nkundabarashi, the president of the Rwanda Bar Association, disputed the reports, contending that lawyers have played a crucial role in more than 80 percent of cases settled through mediation. He emphasised that lawyers also be involved in mediation, either serving as mediators or legal counsellors. He stressed the crucial role lawyers play in the mediation process, stating, “We always tell people that mediation cannot succeed without lawyers because people trust their lawyers more than anyone else. As a result, lawyers are always actively involved.” Furthermore, he emphasised that there are instances where lawyers may advise their clients against pursuing mediation for specific reasons. However, this should not be misconstrued as a complete opposition to the mediation system. “Mediation can serve as an additional source of income for lawyers. They can work as mediators or legal counsellors,” he said, adding, “There is still work to be done because embracing something new is always challenging. However, lawyers are supportive of mediation.” Nkundabarashi emphasised the need for collective efforts to increase awareness about mediation, rather than criticising lawyers. He argued that both the public and practitioners should gain a better understanding of what mediation entails and embrace it more frequently.