A group of 200 mediators, last week, completed a capacity-building training programme that aimed at equipping them with skills necessary in their arbitration responsibilities.
The Ministry of Justice has also moved to streamline the activities of the 38,000 mediators, spread across the country, by setting up mediation secretariats at the district level.
And, in a related development, officials at the Ministry of Justice have embarked on a nationwide tour to sensitise and mobilize the masses on various legal issues, as the Government further decentralizes judicial structures and functions.
These initiatives could not have come at a better time, given the remarkable participation of the Rwandan people in the just-concluded Gacaca courts, which successfully disposed of over a million cases.
Like the Gacaca judicial system, mediation committees will not only relieve the classic courts of backlogs, but will promote reconciliation, peaceful co-existence and citizens’ participation in judicial processes. Settling disputes out of court will save money and time, not only for the plaintiffs and the accused, but for the nation as well.
As the citizens get involved in settling disputes and mediating amongst themselves, more people get to understand the law.
As a result, people at the grassroots will be the custodians and promoters of the law, and this will boost community policing.
But, for mediation committees to succeed, local authorities will have to play a pivotal role; they need to continuously highlight the importance of these committees and to encourage residents to attend and duly participate in the proceedings.