The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Interview - Empower African Court As Alternative to ICC - Rugege

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Doesn't the pressure on judges to adjudicate as many cases as possible compromise the quality of justice?

We are not only concerned about productivity of judges. We also look at the quality. We have a department of inspectorate of courts comprising five inspectors who traverse the country talking to judges, and examining their judgments to ensure that they follow the agreed format.

We also train our judges on certain aspects that must be followed while dispensing justice. For instance a judge should not just hear the facts and render a decision, they must justify the judgment based on the law. This should be done in such a way that anybody who reads the ruling will understand why so and so won and why so and so lost the case.

Can you expound more on the contract judges you referred to earlier. How are they recruited and are they still serving?

Contract judges are used in primary courts. We get a lawyer, who has not been in the system and give them a contract for a year or two to reinforce the primary court. We then take a judge at the primary court to reinforce the intermediate court, while those at the intermediate court are moved to the high court to help clear the backlog there. All these are deployed for a short a period and once the cases are cleared, they go back to their respective postings. Of course, things have since remarkably changed. The only short term placements we have now are at the high court. We do not use contract judges at the Supreme Court.

The rulings might be passed expeditiously based on the figures you provided but the execution of these rulings remains rather sluggish, do you share the same view?

I agree with that; the pace of executing judgments is not at the same level as the pace at which rulings are delivered, but, to start with, that is not within our jurisdiction and I cannot give you a concrete answer.

However, what I can say is that we sometimes have problems with court bailiffs who are supposed to enforce the judgments, especially in civil cases.

Those who have lost a case always try to delay the execution of the judgment. They will appeal at every level, and even after they have exhausted the appeal process, they will still try to have the case reviewed.

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