SYDNEY - The Minister of Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama, yesterday told Commonwealth Law Ministers that Rwanda had strategised and drawn all possible measures to ensure that every citizen accesses justice.
He was addressing the Law Ministers and Attorney Generals from Commonwealth member-states at a meeting that ended yesterday in Sydney, Australia.
The meeting aimed at discussing law and justice, issues of common concern, and how to help strengthen the rule of law, human rights and security across the Commonwealth.
In a telephone interview, Karugarama said that he had assured the participants that access to justice is a constitutional obligation in Rwanda, adding that there should be no reason why some people would be denied justice.
“We have made great strides to ensure that justice is accessible to every Rwandan. And one of the measures is initiation of the Access to Justice Bureaus in all districts where lawyers provide free legal advice to vulnerable people,” the minister said.
The meeting also focused on detention and overcrowding in prisons; judicial independence; administration of justice; provision of legal aid and assistance; Commonwealth action in terms of international law, juvenile justice, human trafficking and cyber crimes among others.
Karugarama added that the meeting acknowledged Rwanda’s steps in addressing the subject matter, and lauded the government for its commitment to impart equitable justice to all nationals.
“We realised we are ahead of many commonwealth countries in these areas that we were discussing. The only crimes which we need to embark on are cyber related,” he said.
The Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma who officially opened the meeting urged the delegates to ensure justice to all their nationals.
“Fundamental to all our work must be an enduring commitment to ensuring that our citizens enjoy access to justice.
While we can find satisfaction in what the Commonwealth has already achieved, your deliberations – and the direction you give the Commonwealth Secretariat – will help us achieve yet more,” he said
“The poor, the marginalised, the vulnerable, those who are – for whatever reason – denied justice; it is they who should be foremost in our thoughts,” he added.