Senators urge govt to review mechanisms to address citizens’ complaints

A cross-section of senators during a past plenary session. File.

Senators have urged the Government to review mechanisms to address citizens’ complaints in order to bring about more timely resolution of conflicts and access to justice.

They made the call yesterday as part of their final analysis of the Ombudsman’s report for the 2017/2018 fiscal year.

After realising that the Ombudsman’s Office still receives many complaints of injustice from citizens, they urged the Government to sensitise leaders to pay more attention to conflicts among citizens.

For Senator Appolinaire Mushinzimana, much as the Ombudsman still receives many complaints from citizens, the latter need to also learn to settle for solutions provided by courts and their local communities.

“The challenge is that once you create an institution in charge of receiving complaints, people will bring complaints,” he said, referring to the habit of citizens who always try to exhaust avenues of complaints instead of settling for suggested solutions.

The senators urged the Government to constantly assess avenues like community meetings, judicial institutions including courts, as well as local leaders to ensure that they diligently work to address citizens’ complaints about cases of injustice.

“The attitude of leaders in addressing citizens’ complaints is the foundation for development,” said Senator Charles Uyisenga.

Reviews of injustice cases reported to the Ombudsman’s Office between 2017 and 2018 regarding complaints of unfair court rulings indicated that 5.9 per cent of the petitions were legitimate.

That fact made Senator Perrine Mukankusi wonder if an assessment of courts and other judicial institutions is needed to ensure that no cases of injustice are created for citizens anymore.

“We need consultations to examine whether there are no problems with the quality of our judicial system,” she said.

Between 2017 and 2018, the Ombudsman’s Office received 2,493 cases of citizens’ complaints about injustice.

Of those cases, 1,116 were collected while the office’s staff was on the field. Some 429 had been filed in written form.

Of the complaints received by the Ombudsman’s Office, land issues were predominant and stood at 31.7 per cent, delay in execution of court rulings was at 31.2 per cent, while expropriation issues were at 11.2 per cent.

Other complaints included those related to labour disputes and poverty related issues and conflicts.

At yesterday’s session, the senators also urged the Government to fast-track the review of the land law in order to curb land related conflicts as well as fast-track resolution of land related complaints by citizens.