The justice sector is working on a five-year strategic plan that looks at putting at the centre efficient service delivery to help promote human rights.
Isabelle Karihangabo, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice, called on all institutions in the sector to join hands to strengthen justice delivery in the country by bridging the gaps wherever they might be.
She said fighting corruption will only be strengthened by striving for efficiency in service delivery, explaining that many resort to corrupt means to acquire a service they would otherwise have acquired for free.
“I am happy with the progress the country has made in access to justice and I have no doubt that we will achieve our targets if we work together. It is all down to us to improve service to the communities from the grassroots to national level,” Karihangabo said.
She was speaking on Wednesday during a stakeholders’ meeting that discussed the 2018-2023 strategic plan for the sector.
The current five-year justice sector strategic plan’s targets have been achieved at 63 per cent, which Karihangabo said is not satisfactory, given that they have only one year left to its conclusion.
“The numbers are not quite good. We still have a long way to go, but we hope to improve and accelerate the rate at which we shall implement the next strategic plan to make sure people are better served,” she said.
The PS said, in formulating the roadmap for the next five years, emphasis must be put on pursuit of emerging crimes like gender-based violence, human trafficking, drug abuse and corruption.
Other areas of focus, she added, will be improved unity and reconciliation, universal access to quality justice, peace and security, transparency, accountability and adherence to human rights.
Victor Mugabe, the executive secretary of Rwanda Bar Association, suggested that the new strategic plan should be designed around strengthening a people-centred judiciary.
“We need to deliver services beyond citizens’ expectations,” he said.
To better achieve the targets, Mugabe recommended sensitisation drives in communities on their rights to justice and teaching them about different laws that protect them.
“Obviously, some people do not know which laws are there to protect them. There is need for more awareness and streamlining legal aid policies to further build ethical standards of justice,” he said.
According to the 2016 Rwanda Governance Scorecard, the justice sector improved in the area of fighting corruption, transparency and accountability from 77.1 per cent in 2012 up to 86.56per cent in 2016.
However, access to justice reduced from 80.25 per cent in 2014 to 76.8 per cent in 2016.
After the draft is elaborated, the strategic plan’s final draft will be submitted to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning for evaluation comments, before it is, by November, presented to the parliament for approval.