TUBIBE AMAHORO Organisation, under the support of RCN Justice & Democratie through Ubutabera Bwegerejwe Umuturage Project (Proximity Justice),organised community dialogues as a forum that has to draw participants from different sections of the citizens to improve the capacity of justice providers to deliver high quality justice services, to inform citizens of their rights and the functioning of the justice system, and to support citizens especially women and vulnerable groups to exercise their rights.
The importance of the community dialogues was to promote better understanding and more creative cooperation between different people and groups in their respective communities. The process helped to reduce misunderstandings and tensions and help ensure more successful interaction in the future.
The community dialogues were attended by 1,956 participants from 50 cells of Karongi and Rutsiro districts in the following categories and were identified by Cells’ Executive secretaries: representatives of National Women’s Council: representatives of National Youth Council; representatives of Opinion Leaders; representatives of Cooperatives; representatives of Families living in conflicts; representatives of people in Ubudehe Category I; litigants with hard cases (ordinary or Gacaca) of execution; Religious representatives ; representatives of Inshuti z’Umuryango, and Executive secretary of Cell.
As per experiences and lessons learnt during the community dialogues, it has been pointed out that although some things have to be complied with rules or regulations but for the betterment of the public and their implementation; it would have been better to be informed through community dialogues rather than coercion and with the help of non-governmental organizations, because when it is done by government agencies the public treats them as oppressors.
Further, many participants were unaware of the right to register children and their aftermath; some were registered with their Grandparents when they gave birth to unplanned pregnancies. Yet, citizens do not understand the seriousness of buying land without registration and mutation and it is a source of conflict. To add on this, citizens were not aware about the rights of the children especially to the mothers who gave birth.
Due to the community dialogues, some of the stories of change have been celebrated: Pastor Musengimana Jonas of Presbyterian Church in Rwanda (EPR), Presbyter of Kilinda recognized the importance of community Dialogue and invite TA to organize the same dialogue activity with the 26 pastors and their spouses. He remarked that other pastors also need are faced by issues like the ones discussd in the communities’ dialogues. Then after they committed to share that knowledge to mitigate and respnd to the problems of rights and laws in their community.
“When I come, I supposed to be here some minutes but then after I was so interested by content and by how nice you spread. All themes talking about are important to community. Seeing the importance I would like to ask you if it is possible to invite you and deliver the same themes to our pastors and their spouses because they don’t know their rights and may use it in mediation in whole community”
The couple of NTIBANYENDERA Thacien and NYIRANDUGU Xaverine (Kabagwe Village, Kabujenje Cell, Kivumu Sector, RUTSIRO District) normally they had been living together for forty-five years as husband and wife with all six children they had married so far with their own home, suddenly they had been living separately for six months due to misuse of household properties. Therefore, the woman accused the man to sell the property without mutual consent so she decides to separate to her son in law. On September 2nd, 2020, both of them participated in a community dialogue that came from each of them individually, after discussing the responsibilities of each of the two spouses decided to resume their union as husband and wife, that there will be no quarrel again. They are going to go and consult on everything they are going to do with the assurance of the administration that they will not hear their problem again. Also, they are determined to go and apologize to their children for their mistakes they have made against them. So far the village authorities have started to testify that since then, there is no any problem.
So far, UBU project uses 26 sector paralegals of which 13 are based in Rutsiro District among them Eleven are female and two are male, and 13 in Karongi District seven among them are female and six are male. The use of paralegals has the following advantages:
- They are focal persons where citizens can get quick information related to the legal aid services,
- They advise, orient, and accompany the citizens especially the most vulnerable to the justice system
- They help reduce time lost during the searching the legal services,
- Reducing the cost required.
Although those paralegals have kept on receiving citizens’ complaints at sector levels throughout all sectors of both Karongi and Rutsiro districts, the local government officials should use trained community members in community dialogues (CD) for them to deliver on the desired project outcomes.