New policy on mediation mechanism in the pipeline

New policy on mediation mechanism in the pipeline

The Ministry of Justice has launched nationwide consultations to gather views to inform an ongoing effort to devise a robust national policy on dispute resolution.

Views that will be gathered from citizens and civil society organisations will subsequently be integrated in a draft policy document, officials said.

Anastase Nabahire, the coordinator of Justice, Reconciliation, Law and Order Sector Strategy (JRLOS) at the ministry, said the new policy will contain the best elements extracted from the various dispute resolution mechanisms that have been used in Rwanda.

Among these include the Gacaca community courts, which tried close to two million cases related to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Gacaca courts were operational for about a decade before closing in 2012.

Then there is the mediators system (commonly referred to as Abunzi) that has played a major role in settling community disputes and helped ease the burden on classic courts of law.

Nabahire was speaking on Wednesday during a consultative meeting with civil society representatives who gave their inputs toward the “National Alternative Dispute Resolution Policy in Rwanda”.

He noted that mediation is less costly and delivers justice faster.

“Consider how Gacaca community courts resolved many Genocide cases in a record short time,” he said, adding that such a system also fosters reconciliation and rehabilitation.

There are 17,941 community mediators across the country, who Nabahire said receive over 100,000 complaints annually.

“Of the complaints that mediators (Abunzi) receive, 95 per cent are resolved while the rest are referred to courts,” he said.

“We are looking for experts who will look at all these mechanisms and come up with a strong policy. Of course, they will also look at best practices from other countries that can be adopted and mainstreamed into the policy,” he added.

Nooliet Kabanyana, the Executive Secretary of the NGOs Forum, said that civil society must be prepared to contribute toward the formulation of the proposed policy.

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