26 February 2019

Rwanda: Civil Society Urged to Inform Citizens About Laws That Protect Them

The Ministry of Justice has urged civil society organisations in the justice sector to help citizens get conversant with laws that protect them.

Johnston Busingye, the Minister for Justice, made the call last week during a round-table on the role of the organisations in enhancing access justice.

"We need a civil society that relate with the needs of citizens and understand their challenges. They are critical in discussing access to justice for ordinary citizens," he said.

According to the 2018 Governance Scorecard, satisfaction with access to justice was at 77 per cent which shows that some people do not know which laws are there to protect them.

The scorecard shows that vibrancy of civil society organisations in policy formulation was at 63.7 per cent.

The report further shows there is a need for more awareness and streamlining legal aid policies with the involvement of civil society.

"We consider civil society as very important stakeholders in designing, reforming and implementing government policy. This is recognised through the National Strategy for Transformation that includes elements of justice and reconciliation, from 2018 to 2024," he said.

He added that the role of civil society was critical in respecting and promoting human rights and social justice as a basis for rule of law.

"In that respect, they are development partners in promoting individual and collective rights in many areas, including decent work, social justice, anti-corruption, gender equality, education, HIV management, tolerance, and others." Busingye noted.

There are over 50 civil society organisations in the injustice and human rights sector.

Felicite Rwemarika, the chairperson of Rwanda NGOs Forum on health and human rights, said civil society may operate below standards if there was no collaboration with the Government and development partners.

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