The Rwanda-Netherlands Advisory Panel on Justice and Rule of Law, a bilateral framework initiated back in 2014, is taking diplomacy and bilateral cooperation a notch higher, according to the Minister for Justice, Johnston Busingye.
He said this yesterday as he officiated at a round-table discussion between the two sides in Kigali under the theme: “Together for a participative and affordable justice.”
Busingye said: “This panel takes diplomacy and bilateral cooperation a notch higher. It enables both countries to meet, once a year, in a spirit of brotherly and sisterly relations, and talk to each other around the table as if we serve the same country.”
“It is a panel that brings two countries together almost purely informally to make serious progress alongside each other.”
In June last year, Rwandan Advisory Panel members visited the Kingdom of the Netherlands for the first meeting, in accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) establishing the Rwanda-Netherlands Advisory Panel on Justice and Rule of Law, signed in November 2014 by the two governments.
The aim of the MoU is to enhance judicial cooperation, mutual legal assistance and policy dialogue between relevant stakeholders from the Netherlands and in the area of justice and rule of law.
The main purpose of the ongoing meeting is to enhance judicial cooperation, mutual legal assistance and policy dialogues between relevant stakeholders from the Netherlands and Rwanda in the area of justice and rule of law.
Officials from both sides are discussing various topics, including the constitutional role of judges, the role of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in the legal process, the role of victims in the legal process, the initial training model as catalyst for change and visibility of justice in society and a presentation on rehabilitation centers in Rwanda.
The head of the visiting delegation, Siebe Riedstra, the Secretary General in the Ministry of Security and Justice in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, commended the progress registered in Rwanda in the past two decades following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
“There has been a lot of progress in different respects, not only on the quality of law but also in the quality of the offices of the prosecutor, the courts and in many other things, including conflict resolution,” Riedstra said.
“Rwanda is a good example, not only for the Netherlands but for the entire world.”
The Dutch government, Busingye added, is also on record for urging other countries to overcome mistrust, honor their pledges, and support Rwanda’s reconstruction.
He said the Netherlands has particularly been a true partner to Rwanda’s justice, reconciliation, and law and order sector institutions.
By providing “substantial financing” to enhance infrastructural development of a number of justice sector institutions, helping put up more than 19 court houses in Rwanda and equipping them with modern equipment, by training scores of judges and prosecutors, the minister noted, the Netherlands provided the missing link to the restoration and strengthening of Rwanda’s justice sector after the 1994 Genocide.
Financial support from the Dutch government is particularly said to have played a vital role in the capacity development of national institutions, enabling them to fully comply with international standards, thereby increasing confidence of the Rwandan public and the international community in the country’s criminal justice system.
Busingye said: “As a result the Rwandan judiciary and prosecution now handle trials of extradited Genocide suspects in a manner that fully complies with international and UN requirements related to the provision of fair trials.”
Courts from the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Canada, the USA, Uganda have transferred, deported or extradited suspects to Rwanda for trial “fully assured that very fair trials will be conducted,” he said.
As the main development partner for Rwanda’s Justice Sector, the Netherlands provides sector budget support to finance, among others, strengthening the capacity of the national forensic laboratory, the development of the integrated electronic case management (IECMS), establishment of the Gacaca archives and conservation of the memory of the Genocide against the Tutsi, among other capacity enhancement initiatives.
The Netherlands injects nearly Euros 5 million annually into Rwanda’s justice sector.