Students from different law schools in institutions of higher learning in the country on Thursday held the final session of the first moot court competition to be held in Rwanda.
The moot court, which focused on International Humanitarian Law, was organised by the universities and Rwanda Red Cross in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). It brought together 112 students from four universities.
The team from Kigali Independent University represented by Lois Kassana, Karisti Ndahayo and Fred Mugisha emerged the winners at the end of the battle that was witnessed by Chief Justice Prof. Sam Rugege who was the guest of honour at the opening of this moot court competition.
The universities that participated in the competition are; the University of Rwanda, INES-Ruhengeri, the University of Lay Adventists of Kigali and Kigali Independent University.
The two-day competition saw students form teams and each team played the role of both prosecution and defence in a fictitious war crimes trial.
Competitors were tested and rewarded marks in consideration of different aspects including time management, style and language, presentation among others.
They were also cautioned on various aspects such as; avoiding unnecessary arguments during pleading before court, their dress code in the court room and to be precise but to the point when presenting any argument before judges.
“We are so excited and very happy that we emerged the winners of this prestigious competition and we shall surely represent the country in Arusha as required,” said Kassana on behalf of her colleagues.
The team will be fully sponsored by the ICRC Delegation in Kigali to represent Rwanda at the All-Africa IHL Moot Court Competition in Arusha (Tanzania) which will bring together the winning teams from across the continent.
Other students who were not lucky to win were rewarded certificates for participation.
This competition comes at a time when the country is working hard to promote International Humanitarian Law, for example, following the recent amended Penal code which incorporates provisions on violations of IHL, notably war crimes.
Rwanda is also known for contributing highly in peacekeeping operations in countries facing conflicts like Mali, Central Republic and South Sudan.
Prof. Rugege, said the more International Humanitarian Law is talked about, the more people will know about it and the more lawyers will understand it too.
“In our context as Rwanda, we have all reasons to encourage respect for international human rights and the law so that we never ever have the kind of abuse of international human rights standard and law as we had in 1994,” says Rugege.
Rugege said that this competition can serve as an example to the world to see that through our universities and civil society, Rwanda has respect for and is in support of the International Humanitarian Law.
He also added that this is one way law students can practice their skills so that when they graduate, they are already experts in the field.