Rwanda: Judiciary to Launch Retrial and Anti-Corruption Portal

The judiciary will next week launch a portal that will allow Rwandans to share information regarding trials related to corruption and help complainants seek retrial of cases.

The application will also provide a platform to share suggestions and exchange ideas on delivery of justice.

The Spokesman of the Judiciary; Harrison Mutabazi told reporters that the platform, which can be accessed via SMS and the internet will go a long way in cutting on the time and money that people spend travelling to Kigali to follow-up on their cases.

Retrial in cases of injustice is normally filed at the court higher than the court where a final ruling is passed or at the Office of the Ombudsman.

"We had cases of people who had to for example travel from Rubavu to Kigali to file a complaint or seek retrial only to get here only to find that the person they came to see is absent that day or that there is another procedure that they need to follow, all resulting into a waste of time and money. This time, they will be doing that without leaving their villages," he said.

He explained that for those seeking retrial citing unfairness, the application can only be filed by the petitioner in the just concluded case or their lawyer in not later than a month.

"Not everyone can apply for a retrial and unlike in the past when the timeline to seek retrial was open-ended, the law has now been amended to give the complainant only thirty days to do so. After this time expires, the claim is null and void," he said.

In June 2017, a new law came into force, stipulating that a complainant can only petition the Ombudsman's Office after exhausting all legal avenues up to the Supreme Court.

The Deputy Ombudsman Odette Yankurije told journalists that while the previous law allowed the complainant to write to the Ombudsman if they felt the verdict was unjust, the current law now requires them to instead write to a higher court than the one that delivered the judgment.

"For instance, if a case was tried by the Primary Court, the complainant is required to petition the Intermediary Court. If the case was tried by the Military Court, they write to the Military High Court," she said.

The president of the court that has been petitioned is required to review the case for any injustices and, if any are found, they write to the Supreme Court which would determine which court should try the case.

Only cases that have gone as far as the Supreme Court can be retried if need be.

Perception

The Director of Information Technology Support at the Judiciary; Niceson Karungi told reporters that the issue of perception where people still believe in face to face meetings instead of electronic communication needs to change.

"Some people still believe that a file moves faster if they meet the person working on it face to face but that is not true. This system will give the complainant an opportunity to follow their file step by step because they have a tracking number. It will also indicate to the judge how long the case has been in the system," she said.

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