A government programme meant to ensure access to free legal counsel, dubbed ‘‘access to universal quality justice,’’ was launched in Musanze district, on Tuesday, by the Minister of Justice, Tharcise Karugarama.
It will be facilitated by a team of three lawyers forming a Justice Bureau in every district. According to Karugarama, the Justice bureaus will be required to offer free legal advice to citizens on where and how to address their local problems, either in primary courts or mediation committees.
“Justice will no longer be a reserve for the rich who can hire lawyers, this policy (access to universal justice) will ensure that Rwandans, and other people living in Rwanda get quality justice, and will ensure that minor cases as well as civil matters are solved at local levels,’’ Karugarama said.
Justice bureaus will also disseminate legal information regarding new laws which have a direct impact on the population .The minister added that such bureaus will also advise the district on particular issues concerning the local residents, and will also conduct continuous legal training of the mediation committees.
“The mediation committees will sort out at least 70 percent of the cases we have been having in courts, this will help local population to engage more into production instead of spending time in litigation as is currently the case,” the Minister said.
Karugarama explained that, in line with the establishment of such offices, emphasis will be put on universal access to quality justice irrespective of ones’ financial status.
Commenting on the new development, Izabela Riziki, the president of the Musanze Intermediary Court, said that the bureaus will support the consolidation of justice system and ensure expedition of justice since most of the civil cases have been piling in courts.
Aline Batsinda, a state attorney in the Northern Province, welcomed the initiative, saying that partners in the legal cycles will help to take justice in Rwanda to another level.
The mediation committees requested to be offered stamps for use, and health insurance as part of their facilitation.