The Legal Aid Forum, an umbrella organization of over 30 local and international NGOs and unions in the legal sector, has launched a five-year strategic plan aimed at efficiently enhancing its work to promote and support quality legal aid services in the country.
During the official launch of the plan in Kigali on Wednesday, the president of the Forum, Clement Nkeza, told stakeholders that over the next five years, the body would seek to strengthen the capacity of legal aid providers in the provision of quality services.
“We will pursue the creation of an effective and sustainable network of legal aid providers who are committed in advancing access to justice for all in the country,” Nkeza said.
He added that implementation of the strategic plan will need an annual average budget of $1.2 million.
In his presentation, the coordinator of the forum’s secretariat, Andrews Kananga, said that the vision of the body is to ensure that justice is equitably distributed in the country by extending aid to remote areas and to vulnerable groups.
“The Rwandan Bar Association, which dominates legal representation, is mainly concentrated in urban areas; this means that some people in rural areas may not be accorded efficient justice. The Legal Aid Forum will seek to fill that gap,” Kananga said.
He also added that the body had registered key achievements in the last three years which include; a countrywide survey it carried out in 2007 on legal aid baselines, as well as the development of an improved documentation and monitoring system used by legal practitioners.
“We are currently mobilizing resources to formulate a favourable policy that includes all our stakeholders who will provide support for the provision of quality and accessible legal aid services,” Kananga said.
The Legal Aid Forum is a registered national NGO which is currently funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands and the Danish Institute for Human Rights.