The Ministry of Justice has released a report highlighting their achievements in the past six years.
The report lists qualified personnel, decent infrastructure, equipment and better organization as some of the key achievements registered between 2004 and 009.
The report titled, “Some of the Major Achievements by the Rwandan Judiciary (2004-2009),” points to several areas impacted by the Judiciary reforms.
The judiciary underwent an extensive reform aimed at streamlining the organizational structure and functions, putting in place qualified and skilled staff in addition to continuously building capacity.
The reforms also aimed at the timely processing of court cases, improving service delivery as well as strengthening the judiciary’s independence.
It was noted that before 2004, there were only 74 qualified judges out of a total 702 and presently, all the 281 practicing judges have, at least, a law degree.
Training programmes, especially study tours to countries including Canada, Mauritius and The Netherlands, have been organized to continuously impart skills and knowledge.
The document highlights that the sector’s organizational structure and functions were reformed to improve and ease access. In 2004, the Supreme Court had four chambers, each with its own President under the coordination of the Chief Justice.
“This created a weakness in the structure, including clashing of different organs – poor resource utilization – and general poor performance. The Supreme Court was restructured to form one single unit under the chief justice.
It was also given a mandate to oversee the functioning of other courts,” reads a portion of the report.
“The former four Courts of Appeal were replaced by one single High Court to improve coordination of lower courts.”
In addition, Commercial Courts were established last year “to speed up commercial litigations and enhance the investment climate in the country.”
“Today the Appeal is categorized depending on the nature and weight of cases so that some of them end at the Intermediate or High court Levels. This has reduced the backlog of cases and discouraged endless litigations.”
“Each court and each judicial personnel commit to performance levels which they have to deliver – This provides for individual accountability and transparency within the system,” the report adds.
The judiciary was also reformed to handle its own finances and budget, a situation that didn’t exist before 2004.
As a strategy to deal with backlog, the minimum number of cases handled by one judge in a month is set at 15, and regularly monitored.
“The president of the High Court has been empowered to temporally shift judges and registrars from courts with fewer cases to those with a big backlog – laws have been amended to provide for the possibility of hiring contractual judges and registrars to specifically handle the old cases.”