Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama

The Minister of Justice who is also Attorney General, Tharcisse Karugarama, made the remarks while presiding over the launch of activities  in Masaka Sector, Kicukiro District.

“So far, we have identified 215 cases involving minors whom we want tried this week and ensure that these children are accorded proper justice,” he said.

The legal aid week is held on an annual basis. Last year, during the same period, 350 cases were tried.

Karugarama noted that this week, all legal practitioners will also focus on legal concerns of women and children.

“The courts, the prosecution, the legal aid forum and the national correctional service are prepared to see all these 215 cases tried,” e noted.

Currently, the UK –DFID, Netherlands, Belgium and UNICEF are the major funders of legal aid in Rwanda.

According to Karugarama, the government allocated funds towards legal aid through the national budget in 2008 for the first time.

“However, we have over 30,000 voluntary mediators who currently manage about 50 percent of all cases that would be going to court. People should be encouraged to approach these mediators because they are doing a great job”

He added that currently, there are three legal aid workers in every district operating ‘Access to Justice Bureaus’.

Two of those legal aid workers are paid by the government while one is paid by UNICEF.

“All these initiatives were put in place to ensure that people don’t spend much in courts. We want people to spend that time on projects that have positive impact on their welfare.”

He added that under the voluntary offering of justice, the Gacaca jurisdiction tried 1.9 million cases since its establishment.

“There has never been a country in the world to register this kind of success and there will not be one in the near future. This is work that was done by Rwandans voluntarily”.

The Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Aloysea Inyumba, said that the country dedicated a whole month to women and girls empowerment which included offering of legal aid to those vulnerable.

“We are encouraging women to use the access to justice bureaus because most cases we receive from women and children are related to justice,” said Inyumba.

At the launch of the legal aid week, Karugarama also held a town hall meeting with residents of Masaka Sector.

Tharcissie Nyinawabana claimed that she has, since 2006, been trying to get a permit to construct her house but in vain.

Settling Nyinawabana’s concern, the Minister instructed the Mayor of Kicukiro District to facilitate her to acquire all the documents she wants.

By Edwin Musoni, The New Times

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