More efforts are needed to curb injustice and corruption in the country and the justice sector has a critical role to play in achieving effective justice for Rwandans, top leaders of the justice sector were told yesterday.
The observation was made by Chief Justice Sam Rugege at the opening of a high-level meeting yesterday in Kigali that focused on strategic orientations for the sector.
Though there are notable improvements in the justice sector, such as more access to the justice system for Rwandans and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to deliver general justice, law and order services, Rugege said that corruption and injustice are still challenges that need to be dealt with.
“There are still issues of corruption but what is important is that we are all ready to fight it and also uproot the vice of embezzling public funds,” he said.
He called for better use of both human and material resources available to the justice sector and better collaboration among legal professionals to achieve improved services for Rwandans.
“Let’s strive to provide justice and let’s keep fighting all forms of injustice. If we can continue to work together we can afford to give Rwandans the kind of justice they need,” Rugege said.
In November last year, Rwanda was awarded a golden cup by the African Association for Public Administration and Management (AAPAM) for her innovation in access to quality Justice services, especially through Maison d’Acces à la Justice (MAJ), which offers free legal aid to citizens at the grassroots.
In the same token to ease access to justice, Rwanda is currently using the Integrated Electronic Case Management System (IECMS), which was developed and made operational to ensure modernisation of criminal, commercial and civil justice.
Regarding corruption, the country was 3rd least corrupt country in Africa according to the corruption perceptions index report by Transparency International released last year.
But local research published by the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) indicates that more efforts are still needed to fight corruption and injustice, with the 2017 Citizen Report Card (CRC) by the board indicating that 11.8 per cent of respondents suggested that they faced injustice in the last 12 months while 3.9 per cent of respondents had been asked or encountered corruption.
RGB’s chief executive, Prof. Anastase Shyaka, said that what the CRC data show is that the justice sector has built itself very fast but still has issues with the integrity of institutions both in the justice sector and beyond.
“When between 10 and 20 people still criticise us, it means that we still have a lot to do,” he said.
He encouraged stakeholders in the justice sector to do more to fight injustice and corruption in the country because the decrease people’s happiness and wellbeing.
“Rwandans should be able to say that their justice sector is effective. For them to be able to say it we will need to be closer to them and offer them quality services. There are measures against corruption but the vice is still there. Injustice is still around us and the justice sector will play a critical role in fighting it,” Shyaka said.
The justice sector leadership group meeting held yesterday was tasked with establishing a transparent and accountable mechanism for oversight, direction and implementation of the sector’s strategy.
The strategy ensures universal access to justice, eradication of genocide ideology, reinforcement of reconciliation mechanisms, promotion of the rule of law, accountability and human rights, as well as the maintenance of law and order.
Among the urgent plans ahead include building capacities in the use of Integrated Electronic Case Management System (IECMS), regulary adjusting laws to keep them up-to-date, reducing case backlogs at the Supreme Court level, fast-tracking recovery of government funds on cases won, and trying Genocide fugitives.
Other plans include the use of the national forensic laboratory, which is likely to be operational in the first half of 2018, and the provision of justice and protection to vulnerable members of society, especially under-age youth who are faced with sexual violence and drugs abuse.
The meeting, other others, attracted the Minister for Justice, Johnston Busingye; Chief Ombudsman Anastase Murekezi, as well as top leaders in the police and correctional services.