Enforcement of court judgements low–study

Despite the efforts by the government to strengthen justice sector, enforcement of court judgements is still a problem, according to research conducted by the Legal Aid Forum (LAF).
Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama. The Sunday Times / T. Kisambira.
Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama. The Sunday Times / T. Kisambira.

Despite the efforts by the government to strengthen justice sector, enforcement of court judgements is still a problem, according to research conducted by the Legal Aid Forum (LAF).

LAF is a network of national and international NGO’s, university legal aid clinics and faith based initiatives that provide free legal aid services to vulnerable people.

The research that was conducted between September 2011 and February 2012 by LAF in 10 districts across the country reveals that enforcement of court judgements remains low.

“In the vast majority of cases surveyed, claimants have to wait longer than the legal 3 months for enforcement of their judgements. Many enforcement agents are not sufficiently competent to play their role,” says the report.

According to the research, 40 per cent of claimants interviewed had their judgements fully executed, 15 per cent had achieved partial enforcement and 45 were still waiting after more than three months.

Reacting to the findings, Tharcisse Karugarama, the Minister of Justice, said that to some extent, the findings were correct but the study did no segregate the specific areas where the enforcement of judgements is low.

“I do agree with the findings and I accept there are some challenges, but there is still a room for improvement,” he said, but emphasised that the justice sector had greatly improved compared to other countries in the region.

“We have decentralised the justice system where we have mediators at grass roots level, professional lawyers at the district level, in order to ensure that citizens access universal quality justice,” he asserted.

The minister, however, urged LAF to go a step further and make a comprehensive research that specifies a particular cell, sector and district where enforcement of court judgements remains a challenge.

According to Andrews Kananga, the Executive Secretary of LAF, the execution of a final court judgement is the last step in obtaining justice for claimants.

“The poor and vulnerable suffer greatly from delayed enforcement which prevents them from accessing fast and quality justice,” he noted.

Kananga said that his institution is going to work with the government to ensure that the challenges highlighted in the report are adequately addressed.

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