There is a need to continually ensure that legal practitioners are well equipped with professional ethics to drive fair judicial system and promote public trust and confidence.
Johnston Busingye, the minister for justice and attorney-general, made the remarks, yesterday, at a lecture about legal ethics and professionalism to the students and scholars of the Institute of Legal Practice and Development (ILPD) in Kigali.
“Whether it’s criminal investigation, prosecution, judging, or private lawyers, we should give people a reason to be confident that we will do the right thing without being influenced, begged, bribed, corrupted, and without knowing who you are. This is the test of ethics,” he said.
“When a Justice system builds a reputation of being trusted by the people and public confidence, then the people are fine and the whole society is better off at doing things. But when there’s little or no confidence in a Justice system, it has a lot of negative implications,” the minister added.
The lecture was attended by over 55 legal practitioners including lawyers, prosecutors, and judges.
Up to 40 per cent of the attendees were judges, 20 per cent prosecutors, 20 per cent private lawyers, and the rest public sector lawyers.
“When we have them here we think it is an opportunity to have a conversation on who are we as human beings. It is not by knowledge alone that you become a good judge, prosecutor or investigator. Knowledge without integrity, you are dangerous, and integrity without knowledge means you are weak,” Busingye noted.
Busingye also said that Justice systems, the World over, often face ethical challenges, and that the way these challenges are confronted and addressed largely defines the success or failure of the legal fraternity.
He highlighted self-interest and corruption, trust-building, and access as some of the underlying ethical challenges.
Frank Asimwe, one of the participants and a registered lawyer with the Rwanda Bar Association, said it is critical for legal practitioners to have ethical values given that what they do is a noble profession.
“It is very important for everyone to have ethical studies in every profession because at the end of the day it guides the moral consciousness of that particular person in what he does. We all work to serve the interest of society, and for the legal practitioners, it is a noble profession that they should, therefore, strive to work to ensure public trust and confidence,” he said.