The Rwandan Judiciary: Judicial reforms feeding into the rule of law, equality and fairness

By Moses Kirui Embracing Ict In Court Rooms & In All Judicial Procedures The Judiciary has introduced efficient and Modern methods with regard to ICT that enables speedy procedures in handling of cases in Law courts including: Electronic Records Management System (ERMS), Judiciary Web Portal, Electronic Case Filing (ECF), Digital Court Recording System (DCRS), Video Conferencing Facilities (VCF), Wide Area Networking (WAN) and Blog of the Judiciary that have greatly promoted speedy procedures in the Rwandan Judiciary.

By Moses Kirui

Embracing Ict In Court Rooms & In All

Judicial Procedures
The Judiciary has introduced efficient and Modern methods with regard to ICT that enables speedy procedures in handling of cases in Law courts including: Electronic Records Management System (ERMS), Judiciary Web Portal, Electronic Case Filing (ECF), Digital Court Recording System (DCRS), Video Conferencing Facilities (VCF), Wide Area Networking (WAN) and Blog of the Judiciary that have greatly promoted speedy procedures in the Rwandan Judiciary.

All courts in Rwanda can now communicate and share information via internet. The Supreme Court, the High Court, the Commercial courts and some intermediate courts are now connected through optical fiber.

In these particular courts, there has been installed a “software” known as “Electronic Digitization Records Management System” (EDRMS) that  help courts to efficiently manage courts files, share information within the judiciary, follow up courts activities and better report on them. It is now in a pilot phase.

A discussion portal has also been put in place to enable judges and other lawyers hold discussions on legal understanding of different laws and cases.

There is a micro portal for the justice sector www.judiciary.gov.rw that displays decided cases and that can help people to find them easily. It also displays other programs of the Justice sector.

A digital recording system is being introduced in courts’system and it is now operational in the Commercial High court. 

The Supreme Court and some other Courts  can now use video conferencing system while handling cases.

The ways of seizing courts with cases through internet have been refined. These ways are in a pilot phase in all courts in  Kigali City.

These and many other advances within the judiciary in ensuring efficiency and swift service delivery, have so far encouraged speedy resolutions  and
Working On Performance Contract

Improving Service Delivery
Unlike the situation before the judicial reform of 2004, the Rwandan judiciary objectives, activities and targets are clearly set in its every three year strategic plan and its annual action plans.

Annual, monthly and quarterly reports are posted on the website and they are sent to all courts so that they may correct some potential mistakes and weaknesses shown in their functioning.  

Every Judge has to handle at least 15 cases per month unless when he/she has encountered problems that are justifiable. The complexity of a case is among reasonable justification.

Self-Examination Aimed At Improving The Functioning  Of Courts
Through inspection of courts, the inspectorate of courts show strategies to be adopted in order to improve the functioning of courts:

In this respect:
Various instructions have been forwarded to courts staff; Various training programs have been organized in the Framework of Capacity building; Different annual retreats for judges and quarterly meetings for presidents of courts have been organized Reporting methods and various forms  used in courts have been refined;

Non performing courts staff have been punished and other sacked;

The content and the design of the aforementioned ICT systems have been provided for;

Suggestions and recommendations to review some laws related to courts’functioning have been made and conveyed to authorities envolved in  law making process

Court Achievements In Handling Cases
Cases judged by the Supreme Court after the judicial reform are more than six times those judged before the reform.

This number has been changing especially due to various reasons like trainings and unavailability of more judges.

The High Court
As shown by this graphic, there are more cases judged than received from the year 2008. This is due to the various strategies adopted by the end of the year 2007 and these include:

Introducing single judge system , even on appeal level;

Initiating the system of mobile judges to help others courts to clear backlogs.

Intermediate courts 

As the above graph shows, the number of cases judged has increased significantly after the judicial reform of 2004 such that, since 2007, the number of cases judged got higher, compared to the number of those received.

Primary courts
As shown in the above graph, the number of cases judged have been increasing except in 2006 due to various reforms that were being carried out.

The number of cases received also kept increasing and, as shown by this graph, this number got higher in this year compared to the number of cases judged.

This is due to some imperfections within the law governing the mediation committees by which these mediation committees have no more jurisdictions over litigations opposing people who are living in different locations.

Commercial courts
These 208 cases received in 2008 came in additional to other 3000 pending cases inherited from former specialized commercial chambers of the intermediate courts.

This entire old backlog has been cleared though new cases continued to come in great number. Indeed, some courts still have many pending cases especially the High Commercial Courts (921) and Nyarugenge Commercial Court (324).

For other commercial courts, Huye and Musanze, cases are judged as they are being received.

Ends

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