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From the 29th to the 30th of October, 2021,  Rwanda NGOs Forum on HIV/AIDS and Health Promotion  hosted a two-days Exhibition on the role, engagement and partnership between NGOs active in the justice sector with partner institutions, local leaders and the community in Rwanda in line with a project “Strengthening Rwandan Civil Society Organizations’ (CSO) Capacity to Influence Policy” implemented in a coalition with the Great Lakes Initiative on Human Right, Health Development Initiative and Ihorere Munyarwanda Organization with the support of JRLOS Secretariat in the Ministry of Justice. The Exhibition took place at Cyanika playground, in Rwaza Cell, Rugerero Sector in Rubavu District of the Western Province.

The 2 days CSOs Exhibition was an opportunity to enhance sector capacity and coordination for the community to benefit from services provided by CSOs in the Justice and Human Rights Sector. They presented their area of interest and intervention in service delivery components for the public to learn about their work with the  aim:

  1. To ensure that the public has sufficient and accurate information about the work of CSOs in the Justice Sector and Human Rights.
  2. To ensure CSOs get closer to citizens and enlighten them on their rights and are informed where to easily access justice services.
  3. To improve partnership between CSOs working in the Justice Sector and the Media for increased Visibility.

Opening the Exhibition, The Executive Secretary Of Rubavu District Mr. Olivier Ruhamyambuga acknowledged the CSOs contribution to Promote and support the provision of accessible and quality legal aid services in Rwanda and Rubavu District in particular.

“We have appreciated this exhibition because, in it we see how supportive these CSOs are in our District. We have ten Civil society Organizations in our District that work in the sector of Justice and their contribution to justice service provision is noteworthy. We expect more from this campaign,” He stated.

The Exhibition convened 10 CSOs active in the Justice and human rights Sector namely; IMRO, GLIHD, AJPRODHO, CERULAR, ADEPE, CLADHO, Lawyers Of Hope, Social Justice Initiative and ULK-GISENYI Campus.

For two days 772 persons from Western Province, in particular those of Rubavu  approached the Exhibitors to seek general information about various forms of legal aid services provided by CSOs and their specifically presented concrete cases which require support,theywere able to receive first-hand information and provided flyers and contact information to be disseminate widely to their fellows who may need similar services. :

 247 cases were received related to family and civil cases which  occupied( 44%),This category was dominated by cases  related to alimony and search for paternity, land disputes, succession disputes and divorce in that order followed by Administrative cases dominated by delayed enforcement of judgements complaints and issues related to civil status registration connected to disputes of Ubudehe Categorization, Sexual Gender Based Violence Cases and others cases which grouped together assault, robbery, labor and commercial disputes.

Residents of Western Province were delighted to get legal aid support closer to them compared to before, where it took them a long journey to seek justice, it was expensive, and sometimes they couldn’t  get justice at all, as it’s said in this testimony; “My claim about an untrue bankruptcy that I was involved in some months ago was heard today, and a team here has advised me on the best way to proceed with the case. I am now feeling optimistic to get out of the case fairly,”  Felicien Nsangiranabo, a resident in Gisa Cell, Rugerero Sector. He had attended the exhibition to express his unsolved dispute with a bank.

Tom Mulisa, Executive Director of Great Lakes Initiative for Human Rights and Development, Representing Exhibitors presented the existing activities and support provided by Civil Society organizations to advance justice for all  in Rwanda, “We are here in line with what we usually do throughout daily activities including enabling justice among people. We know injustice and law illiteracy still exist in people, which is why we give such opportunities to residents to interact with us” He Said.

Access to justice is a crucial factor for Rwanda in combating poverty, promoting peaceful resolution of disputes, and enhancing the rule of law. During this 2 days exhibition, 39 cases were successfully resolved on spot and 208 cases were referred to different institutions through Referral mechanisms between legal aid providers and other justice actors. The highest number of cases were referred to local authorities, followed by courts of law, and Office of the Ombudsman.