The Legal Aid Forum
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LAF Core Funding Support

IATI Identifier: RW-RGB-114-RGB-RGO-2013-XM-DAC-7-PPR-4000001817

Published on IATI
  • date_range Nov 01, 2018
  • autorenew Implementation (Status)

Equitable, functioning and accessible justice system is crucial to combating poverty, promoting good governance and the rule of law. It is a basic human right and an indispensable means towards conflict resolution. The right of access to justice guarantees victims of human rights violations an effective remedy. By strengthening access to justice, all other rights are strengthened and in turn this reinforces human rights and advances the promotion of actions that help alleviate poverty and support sustainable development. These are aspirations of the 2,030 agenda for sustainable development (SDGs), which Rwanda as a country is also trying to implement. LAF members believe that access to justice should not depend on wealth, education levels, religion or ethnicity. Therefore in order to realise the goal of equitable access to justice, it is essential to put in place mechanisms for the provision of legal aid services . Only in this way, can access to justice become accessible to those in need rather than remaining a prerogative of those who can afford procuring legal aid services. The environment within which legal aid is provided in Rwanda is characterized by a high population density with a large rural, semi-literate population. 12,089,721 million people live in an area of 26,338 square kilometres and 39.1% of the population lives below the poverty line. Rwanda has a small number of advocates in comparison to the population size and they are mainly concentrated in urban areas. There is currently one advocate for every 10,356 people in Rwanda [This is obtained based on the Rwandan population (12,427,297 according to www.countrymeters.info/en/Rwanda) and 1,200 advocates (according to the RBA data, 2015 cited in RBA strategic plan 2016-202]. Lawyers’ fees are prohibitively expensive for the majority of people and the urban bias of legal services result into additional expenses for those poor men and women who seek justice. Statistics show that 79.4% of the litigants are not represented in courts in Rwanda and this adversely affects the outcome of their cases. The recently concluded research by LAF on citizen’s feedback on justice and legal services revealed that issues of accessibility and availability of legal aid services still remain. Respondents reported that they spend approximately 264,073 RWF on a civil case and 219,498 RWF on a criminal case . On average, people have to wait for 454 days for a case to be resolved due heavy backlogs in the court system and even when resolved, they have to wait for 8 months for the decisions to be enforced. Only 38.5% respondents reported being satisfied with decisions of the Abunzi mediation committees and only 4% reported being knowledgeable about their legal rights. [ See survey on “Improving the Performance of the Criminal Justice System through Improved Pre-trial Justice: The Impact of Pre-trial Detention on Access to Justice in Rwanda”, 2013, LAF] Case backlogs appear to be somewhat endemic within Rwandan courts. The same study in 2013 highlighted a huge number of detainees who spend a long time in detention before trial mainly due to the problem of huge case backlog in courts. This situation is exacerbated by the continuing limited capacities for legal aid providers to reach out to all those in need of legal assistance. Experience shows that with the availability of simple legal advice, education and mediation most of these cases wouldn’t end up in courts. The Government of Rwanda has introduced different initiatives to improve access to justice and legal aid for the people such as Abunzi system and Maison d’Accès à la Justice-MAJ (Justice Offices at district level). All these initiatives are commendable. However, these schemes still face a lot of challenges including limited knowledge/skills and outreach capacities. Particularly, for MAJ there are only three legal officers in a district and they can’t in any way satisfy the needs of the population with regard to their legal problems. The State of the Netherlands has made this three year contribution to the Core funding of the Legal Aid Forum from November 2018 up to December 2021. In addition to supporting the running costs of LAF, the contribution is also supporting the Legal Aid Civil Society Fund (LACSF). This is an initiative of the forum to make grants to its member organizations. Members of the forum (38) are allowed to submit their proposals that are assessed by an Independent Selection and Monitoring Committee (ISMC). The selected projects are funded for a period of 12 months or less. The grants will be made in three (3) rounds i.e. 2019, 2020 and 2021. LAF is performing well in this project and remains optimistic that combined efforts will lead to an interesting step toward the realization of our country's agenda.

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Participating Organisations

Netherlands - Ministry of Foreign Affairs Government Funding
The Legal Aid Forum National NGO Accountable

Transaction

Transaction Value Provider
Receiver
Type Date
590,000,000 RWF Provider N/A Receiver N/A Disbursement
date_range Aug 23, 2019
680,000,000 RWF Provider N/A Receiver N/A Disbursement
date_range Nov 26, 2018

Budget

2,009,944 USD
  • 1,093,494,323 RWF (Valued at Nov 01, 2018)
    date_range Jan 01, 2019 - Dec 31, 2019
  • 678,698,322 RWF (Valued at Jan 01, 2019)
    date_range Jan 01, 2019 - Dec 31, 2019
access_time Updated on Mar 31, 2020 10:00:12