The Legal Aid Forum, the Institute for Policy and Research-Rwanda, and the University of Massachusetts Boston hosted Rwandan Government officials to discuss a new project designed to strengthen the quality and consistency of decision-making by district authorities in administrative cases involving citizens and businesses. The event at the Marriot Hotel in Kigali brought together officials representing a wide range of government ministries and agencies including the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Local Government, the Rwanda Governance Board, and the Capacity Development and Employment Services Board.
Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the three-year project is a partnership between the University of Massachusetts Boston, the Legal Aid Forum, and the Institute for Policy and Research-Rwanda. The project will focus on decision-making at the district level in three substantive areas: public and private labor regulation, land expropriation, and public procurement. Its purpose is to gather information on how decisions are reached and communicated to citizens in the three areas to generate systemic learning among district officials and improve the quality of the decision-making process. That, in turn, can lead to greater public satisfaction and the generation of fewer complaints and appeals to the courts or the Office of the Ombudsman. Ultimately, the initiative’s efforts will contribute to strengthening good governance in Rwanda.
Based on preliminary discussions, the Government of Rwanda is interested in improving the quality of administrative decisions and reducing the numbers of cases appealed to the courts based on potentially incorrect or procedurally defective decisions at the district level. When cases are decided properly the first time, and citizens feel they have been properly heard, the number of appeals and complaints should decrease.
“The United States Government cares about the Rule of Law and access to justice for all citizens,” said Erica J. Barks-Ruggles, U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda.
“This project will empower the local partners, the Legal Aid Forum and the Institute for Policy Analysis and Research, to make informed recommendations on reforms that will enable citizens to access services and benefit from streamlined decision-making at the district level.”
Government stakeholders will play an important role throughout the project in bringing practical insights to bear on the initiative’s findings and policy recommendations. According to IPAR Research Director Alfred Bizoza, “to the extent that the project lies at the intersection of public administration and legal concerns, particularly at the district level, MINIJUST and MINALOC will continue to be critical partners.”