KIGALI - The Kigali Chambers of the High Court is struggling under the weight of ‘unnecessary lawsuits’ that continue to flow in daily, the President of the High Court, Johnston Busigye has said
Busingye told The New Times in an exclusive interview, yesterday, that the High Court of Kigali was struggling with cases that should not have made it to court in the first place.
“Our population is very good at litigation. What is needed is a national solution to the issue of litigation. We are working with local authorities and we would also like to involve the media to educate the people that court is not the only solution to resolving conflicts,” he said
Busingye explained that the Kigali Chambers were dealing with 5,373 cases which were filed between 2008 and 2010.
He pointed out that the High Court has 26 judges countrywide, 10 of whom are full time and three provisional ones based in Kigali. Others are based in other chambers in Rusizi, Rwamagana, Nyanza and Musanze.
The Kigali Court also deals with appeals from the districts of Gicumbi, Gasabo and Nyarugenge.
Asked if the number of judges was not small, Busingye explained that compared to the national population and other countries in the region, the number was sufficient.
“26 judges in the whole of Rwanda is not a small number.
What is needed is not increasing the number, but to find a national solution to these cases that find their way to the high court when they could have been litigated elsewhere,” he said
Busingye also pointed out that so far, his court was pushing the Ministry of Justice to look into the issue of litigation fees which, he says are still based on old legislation.
He pointed out that the High Court deals with complicated and complex cases but solutions and systems had been put in place to solve the issue of the backlog.
For instance, according to Busingye, to beat the backlog, each High Court judge is expected to try at least 15 cases per month.
He pointed out that with support from Parliament and the Justice Ministry, serious decisions have been put in place and so far, major improvements have been registered.
“Parliament has been very instrumental and supportive in improving the situation here. The MPs were instrumental in changing the law to accommodate the use of only one judge per case. Previously, the law required three judges for each case,” he said
He also added that the Parliament was behind the changing of the law that gave the Chief Justice the powers to temporarily move judges from lower courts to the high court depending on urgency.
According to Busingye, the High Court is also negotiating with the Ministry to consider amending the law to provide for cash bail and bond even to suspects who have committed major crimes.
Currently, cash bail and bond privileges apply only to crimes whose sentence does not exceed five years on conviction.