Thursday, June 28, 2012

Public urged to make good use of mediators

Tharcisse Karugarama.
The government wants over 90 per ent of cases to be settled by community mediators to enable higher legal officers concentrate on other development projects in the Ministry of Justice.

This was said by the Minister of Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama, while addressing Mageregere residents in Nyarugenge District.

Karugarama said the government wants Rwandans to solve conflicts within their respective communities by local mediators, commonly known as Abunzi, without necessarily going through courts.

Community mediators are  traditionally based services aimed at helping reduce cases that are handled by the mainstream courts of law.

“This business of taking your cases to courts is a waste of time where you move from court to court yet it could be solved by mediators,”

“We are currently building more capacity for the mediators so that they handle all the cases emerging from the communities hence seeing all Rwandans having access to quality justice,” Karugarama said, adding that courts will only handle cases that the mediators cannot handle. Some of them include cases involving money above Rwf3 million and murder cases.

There are over 30,000 community mediators in the country with every district having access to a justice bureau that provides free legal services to the local mediators.

Speaking to The New Times, one of the residents, a 60-year-old and a father of six, John Murisa, said the local mediators have helped his village.

“The mediators have contributed much towards unity and reconciliation in this area because cases are settled by residents themselves,” Murisa said. However, some mediators said they lack basic training on how to handle some of the cases.

“If we could have thorough training on some cases related to finance and land conflicts which we normally receive, it would improve our operations,” Jean Pierre Habimana, one of Mageregere’s local mediators, told this paper. 

A survey conducted recently by Transparency International-Rwanda (TI-RW) on behalf of Rwanda Governance Board (RGB), indicates that 75.9 percent of people who refer their cases to local mediators have full trust in the committees.

The survey indicates that public satisfaction with the mediators’ activities to provide justice stands at 76 percent with their integrity rated at 81.5 per cent. The overall performance stands at 77.2 percent.

Article by Fred Ndoli, Newtimes.

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