15 May 2019

Rwanda: Over 70% of Conflicts Are Settled By Community Mediators, Says Busingye

The minister of Justice and Attorney General Johnston Busingye has said that over 70 percent of conflicts among Rwandans are settled by community mediators known as Abunzi.

Civil offences whose settlement value doesn't exceed Rwf3 million are normally referred to Abunzi who sit at the village the cell and the sector level.

It is only after the petitioners are dissatisfied by the mediation settlement that they may proceed to courts of law for litigation.

According to Busingye, only 30 per cent of these civil disputes proceed to courts for litigation, with the remaining 70 per cent satisfied by decisions of the mediation committees.

Busingye revealed the numbers on Tuesday 14 May 2019 while handing over 500 bicycles to community mediators in Rubavu District at Rugerero Sector, to ease their movement as they traverse communities solving disputes.

The minister said the home-grown initiative solves over 100,000 cases in a year on average.

"Over 70 percent of conflicts are solved by Abunzi, creating harmony and allowing people go back to their work," Busingye said.

Busingye urged Rubavu residents to utilise Abunzi mediators in their villages, stressing that those who opt to go to courts for litigation lose much time and resources which is often times not even necessary.

"Mediation does not just offer justice; it creates harmony in a community and it takes less time and resources; you can never prosper when you spend much of your time in courts of law instead of working," he told Rubavu residents.

Busingye, who also met with hundreds of residents in a citizens' forum, advised parents and elderly people in communities to work together to combat criminality among young people who constitute the biggest number in prisons.

He said that over 60 percent of prisoners in Rwanda prisons are under 40 years of age.

"It is alarming that most of the inmates are young people, an indication of a disconnect between the elderly and young people."

The most rampant crimes for which young people in prisons are convicted for include rape, assault and drug abuse.

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