Innovative Justice and Reconciliation Program launched in Rwanda with EU Support

By Esther Muhozi
On 30 January 2024 at 03:13

The Ministry of Justice (MINIJUST) in collaboration with the European Union (EU) has launched an innovative initiative to enhance Rwanda’s justice and reconciliation efforts, marking a significant step towards sustainable development. The Justice and Accountability Programme (JAP), spanning four years and budgeted at 19.5 billion euros (approximately Rwf 26.7 trillion), was officially inaugurated on January 29.

EU Ambassador Belén Calvo Uyarra highlighted the program’s relevance to Rwanda’s post-1994 Genocide against the Tutsi journey. The JAP consists of three main components, with the first focusing on enhancing professionalism and skills among key entities such as MINIJUST, the Judiciary, National Prosecution Authority (NPPA), Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), Rwanda National Police (RNP), and the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR).

Uyarra explained that this component aims to expedite justice delivery, reduce case backlogs, modernize the justice system, and improve access to quality justice. Additionally, it seeks to streamline legal aid support for universal and affordable justice, with a special emphasis on inclusivity for vulnerable groups and human rights.

The second set of components addresses reconciliation, rehabilitation, and unity, providing support to the Rwanda Correctional Service (RCS) and civil society. Technical, vocational, education, and training (TVET) programs will equip inmates and former genocide perpetrators with essential skills to reduce reoffending upon their reintegration into society. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) will engage in socio-psychological healing and reconciliation processes at the community level to enhance resilience and unity across the country.

The third component aims to amplify civil society’s voice and accountability by empowering CSOs to collaborate closely with citizens, effectively addressing accountability issues. The program originated from a financing agreement signed on July 26, 2023, totaling €19.5 million between the Government of Rwanda and the EU.

Emmanuel Ugirashebuja, the Minister of Justice, emphasized the positive impact of the program on the justice sector, acknowledging the EU’s crucial role as a justice sector partner. He highlighted previous EU support achievements, including the implementation of the Alternative Dispute Resolution policy and contributions to the development of criminal justice policies. Ugirashebuja concluded by affirming the program’s significance as a milestone in the justice sector, expressing confidence in its ability to fund existing programs and positively impact citizens.

EU Ambassador Belén Calvo Uyarra (right) with Rwanda's Minister of Justice, Dr. Emmanuel Ugirashebuja.