The New Times (Kigali)

12 May 2008

Rwanda: Country's First Legal Institute Launched

Nyanza — Rwanda's first Law development centre has been launched. The National Institute of Legal Practice and Development (ILPD) was officially opened yesterday by Prime Minister Bernard Makuza, in Nyanza, Southern Province.

Representing President Paul Kagame at the function, Makuza said that the establishment of the institute was in line with the government's resolve in reinforcing the implementation of the Justice Sector Reform. Reforms in the judiciary began in 2003.

Makuza said he was optimistic that the ILPD will provide knowledge to legal practitioners in the country to make the government's vision of justice for all a reality.

He challenged legal practitioners in the country to put the institute to good use by building their professional capacities.

"Use the knowledge acquired to develop independence of mind, precision of thoughts, search for excellence, love for justice and equity," said the Premier.

The Institute aims to become a centre of all legal systems and an international centre of excellence for legal development and practice.

It will offer a nine-month course in law and it will award a Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice and Continuing Legal Education.

The institute will offer training to Judges, Prosecutors, lawyers and other groups like public notaries, court clerks, bailiffs and civil servants.

Speaking at the ceremony, the Minister of Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama, hailed the inauguration of the ILPD saying that it is a timely move that will enhance the rule of Law in the country.

Karugarama, who also the Attorney General, said that Rwanda being the bridge between East Africa and Central Africa has embraced Comparative Law- which has elements of the Common Law (practiced in East Africa) and Civil Law practised in other neighbouring French speaking countries.

According to the minister, the institute will act as hub for French-speaking African lawyers willing to qualify to do business in English speaking countries and for English-speaking lawyers willing to qualify for doing business in francophone countries.

It will also help lawyers who were educated in the Common Law system adapt to Civil Law and vice versa. He said that the Ministry of Justice, with assistance from UNDP, has set up the 'Access to Justice Bureau' that will help bring justice-related services closer to the people.

The Rector of the institute, Vastina Rukimirana Nsanze said that being a young institution, the ILPD is still faced with challenges of having inexperienced human resources.

"We shall mainly rely on international trainers who will be working with Rwandans. We hope that this dependency will reduce in a period of between 2-3 years," said Nsanze.

Nsanze said that the ILPD will seek closer ties with regional and International Institutes of Legal Practice to bolster training of its staff and to enhance research.

The launching of ILPD was attended by Cabinet Ministers, members of the diplomatic corps, Rectors of Institutions of Higher Learning in the country and other senior government officials.

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