Strengthening Proximity Justice in Rwanda


Vision for the Rwanda Programme: In Rwanda, the people and the government uphold Proximity Justice and democracy. Policies, laws and strategic plans designed to uphold human rights and deliver Proximity Justice are accessible and widely known. Justice services are administered efficiently, effectively and equally to all people, with sensitivity to vulnerable groups. Citizens and CSOs have faith in the rule of law and have the space and capacity to claim their rights and dialogue with policy makers.

Mission for the Rwanda Programme: In support of the vision, the program will support citizen participation in proximity justice, facilitating constructive dialogue and raising awareness about the rights and duties of the population, the law and the functioning of proximity justice. It will seek to safeguard the rights of women and vulnerable or marginalized groups, in particular their access to justice and participation in decision-making. The programme will provide capacity building and opportunities for exchange to JRLOS institutions, local authorities and CSOs to enable them to collaborate better and fulfil their mandates, particularly in proximity justice.

 Programme Description

It is often said that without security there can be no development. Equally, without justice there can be no true security for people’s lives and livelihoods. A fair and efficient justice sector – one that is accessible to all, protects the vulnerable and the strong equally, and provides a means for conflict to be addressed in a peaceful manner – is a critical foundation for human and economic development.

RCN J&D recognizes the need to improve the quality of justice services provided in Rwanda, and to inform citizens of their rights and how to claim them. RCN J&D also understands the importance of supporting civil society organizationsto engage in a constructive dialogue with the government and to play their proper role in ensuring a better quality of justice rendered at the local level. At the heart of RCN J&D’s work is demand for “proximity justice”, which has five fundamental components:

  • The geographical distance that has to be covered in seeking justice
  • The timeliness of procedures and individual decisions
  • The cost of justice, that should be affordable to all
  • The extent to which laws, procedures and individual decisions correspond to the notions of justice and fairness and are, thus, seen as legitimate
  • The extent to which citizens can actively participle in the development and implementation of justice policies, as well as in monitoring of and lobbying on justice.

RCN J&D takes a rights-based approach to programming. In practice this means that RCN J&D supports the creation and implementation of legal policies in line with international standards, human rights laws and peace agreements. It also entails respect for the principles of transparency, participation and non-discrimination, for example:

  • Participation: The SPJR programme is based on needs and priorities identified by key constituents including CSOs, members of the public, litigants, Primary Court Judges, Central-level senior MINIJUST staff (including the permanent secretary and Minister of Justice), the Abunzi, the MAJ, and Executive Secretaries. During activities RCN J&D and its partners pro-actively seek to enable the potential participation of all participants, with particular sensitivity to those who may feel socially or culturally shy about participating actively.
  • Transparency: RCN J&D reports to SIDA, CSO partners and MOJ on the outputs and outcomes (via progress makers and contextual reporting) with quarterly updates on progress markers and annual reports containing further qualitative and quantitative data and contextual updates (including updates to risk analysis and mitigation
  • Non-discrimination: RCN J&D ensures that partners try to achieve gender balance where possible when delivering activities, and that representations of characters in IEC, theatre and radio, are not discriminatory.

Since the programme is focused on attitude and behavior change an outcome mapping approach has been adopted for planning, monitoring, evaluation and learning. RCN J&D has developed a Visionfor the Rwanda programme reflecting the long-term changes it will contribute to. This includes efficient and effective justice services that are available equally to all people equally regardless of age, sex, disability or level of wealth, and are sensitive to the different needs of vulnerable or marginalized people. It also hopes to see citizens and CSOs who have faith in the rule of law and have the space and capacity to claim their rights and dialogue with policy makers. RCN J&D has also elaborated a Mission statement for the Rwanda programme, which describes the areas in which it will work in support of the Vision.

TwoBoundary Partners (BP) with whom RCN J&D will work directly and seek to influence have been selected: Proximity Justice Actors (PJAs)and audiences. RCN J&D has elaborated the best case scenario envisaged for each BP in the form of an Outcome Challenge. These changes are designed to contribute to the Vision and be in accordance with RCN J&D’s mission. The implementation strategy is summarized though Strategy Maps for each BP. These strategies are complementary and include trainings and exchange workshops for PJAs; public awareness campaigns and community dialogues on the justice sector; technical support, capacity building and provision of material support to PJAs; and providing support to PJA networks. Progress towards the outcome challenges will be measured through a participatory monitoring, evaluation and learning plan which includes a set of Progress Markers for each BP.

The strategies employed by RCN J&D to encourage changes in the BPs, which can support the outcome challenges and ultimately the Rwanda programme’svision, are all designed to eventually contribute to an improvement in the conditions for the final beneficiaries; the population of Rwanda in the five districts where the project is delivering its activities.

Sustainability of Change

The sustainability of RCN J&D’s programme rests on several pillars:

  • RCN J&D ensures that its projects are fully in line with Rwanda’s medium and long term political strategies, including the MoJ’s strategic plan (2013–18), the JRLOS Strategy and the government’s seven year plan (7YGP) (see section 5.II).
  • Whilst being careful to maintain independence and neutrality, RCN J&D works closely with the MoJ and recognizes and encourages the Ministry’s central role to ensure a coordinated approach to programme delivery, by all actors working to support the justice sector, which supports the MoJ’s priorities. Furthermore RCN J&D adopts an open and transparent approach to sharing its experience, tools and plans with the MoJ and other development actors so methods, tools and actions can be harmonized.
  • Rwandan ownership of the changes influenced by RCN J&D is encouraged. For example, RCN J&D will look to ensure that any CSO networks created or supported have the ability to continue communication after the life of the project
  • RCN J&D will continue to advocate for the provision of adequate budget support to justice sector institutions by the central government, particularly to support to support the on-going costs of the Abunzi system such as training, material support.

Funded by:

RCN Justice et Democratie

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