There is a need for more efforts in leveraging ICT in service delivery in the justice sector during Covid-19, Minister of Justice Johnston Busingye has said.
He was speaking during the launch of Justice and Legal Aid Month on Thursday, June 24.
"Differently from previous years, we have decided to adapt both the Justice Week and Legal Aid activities to the Covid-19 pandemic conditions under which we are working. We have organised almost all events virtually," he said.
He noted that there is a need to reflect on the changes brought about by the pandemic on justice service delivery, the challenges and benefits noticed.
Busingye emphasized that Covid-19 restrictions should not in any way affect collective commitment to deliver on the rule of law, human rights, fair and impartial processes, effective law enforcement and legal aid to the citizens.
"It is worth observing that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, all justice services providers have not stopped at all to deliver services to the population in a timely, fair and effective manner.
We have to continue leveraging technology in service delivery during Covid-19, learn from successes, challenges and devise a way forward," he said.
Busingye highlighted that a series of events and activities to mark the 2020-2021 Justice and Legal Aid month are organised in strict observance of the Covid-19 pandemic control measures.
"The month also takes into account legal aid funds mobilisation and support to those who are considered as facing the most complicated and compounded forms of social and economic disadvantages. We all know that access to justice for all is paramount, in the construction of a rule of law state," he said.
The level of citizens satisfaction with access to justice was at 85, 99 per cent in 2020 from 71, 7 per cent in 2019 and 77 per cent in 2018, an improvement from 66, 18 per cent in 2013, according to the Rwanda Governance Scorecard.
Officials said such performance in the justice sector should be maintained and improved by leveraging technology.
Angeline Rutazana, the Inspector General of Courts said that from March to December 2020, the courts registered over 71,000 cases.
She said that by leveraging technology, 490 cases were presided over using skype and 1,077 cases were also pronounced using skype.
She said 369 cases were presided over by use of video conference while 128 cases were pronounced using video conference.
The Executive Director of the Legal Aid Forum Andrews Kananga said that a recent online survey on access to justice during Covid-19 indicated that 85 per cent of the judges' activities were affected by Covid-19 at the beginning of the pandemic.
The judges, he said, and 80 per cent of investigators and prosecutors also suggested that legal services be considered essential services.