The Minister for Justice, Johnston Busingye, has said that over 70 per cent of disputes at the grassroots level are settled by community mediators, locally best known as Abunzi. Civil offences of any value not exceeding Rwf3 million are usually referred to Abunzi, who sit at the village, cell and sector levels – the three administrative structures below the district. But parties can challenge these grassroots tribunals’ rulings to courts of law. According to Busingye, only 30 per cent of Abunzi verdicts are challenged in courts of law, while 70 per cent hold with no appeal. Minister Busingye, who also doubles as Attorney General, revealed the numbers on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 during an event to hand over 500 bicycles to community mediators in Rubavu District, at Rugerero Sector, to help ease their movement as they traverse communities settling disputes. The minister said the home-grown mechanism, on average, addresses over 100,000 cases in a year. “Over 70 per cent of conflicts are settled by Abunzi, fostering harmony among communities and allowing people to continue with their day-to-day life and not spend a lot of time in courts,” Busingye said. Busingye urged Rubavu residents to make use of Abunzi mediators in their villages, stressing that those who opt to go to courts for litigation lose much time and resources, which is often times unnecessary. “Mediation does not just deliver justice; it creates harmony in the community and it takes less time and resources; you can never prosper when you spend a lot of your time in courts,” he told the residents. Busingye, who also met with hundreds of residents in a citizens’ forum, advised parents and the elderly people in communities to work together to combat criminality among young people, whom he said make up the biggest number in prisons. He said that over 60 per cent of prisoners in Rwanda are aged under 40 years. “It is alarming that most of the inmates are young people, which points to a disconnect between the elderly and young people.” Most youth offenders are jailed for rape, assault and drug abuse.