We have just received the oath of judges at various levels of our justice system.
These responsibilities are, in fact, not new to them. They are only assuming them at other levels of the judiciary.
I would like to congratulate them and wish them well in their new responsibilities.
The Rwandan economy has grown in size and dynamism. As it grows, Rwandans’ aspirations and expectations also keep growing.
The justice system needs to keep watching this evolution of our economy and other aspects of Rwandans’ living standards and continually play its rightful role. They would be misunderstanding their responsibilities if they didn’t play their role.
Let me give some examples.
Our IT ambitions won’t be achieved unless we call out cybercrime.
International investment or contracting can only support this growth if it delivers as promised or justice ensures that this happens or violations are called out.
Banking won’t survive if debtors can use the justice system to endlessly delay payment or permanently get away with it.
Public or Private contracts will lose meaning if the justice system cannot ensure that attempts to derail enforcement are nipped in the bud. When necessary, such attempts should be punished severely to ensure that they are not repeated or to deter anyone from following that path.
Judgment execution will lose public confidence and the intended results if it is perceived as tainted by fraud or conspiracy and, instead of finally resolving matters, only opens up new litigation.
The justice system should aim at supporting growth of a culture of playing by the rules. All this should start with the judges themselves showing that they respect justice, respect the rule of law. Thus Rwandans will be happy that they have someone to run to when they need justice and that the truth will prevail, allowing them to continue with their daily lives.
We are happy the Rule of Law Index placed Rwanda at 37 globally. Countries worldwide are ranked according to how they respect the rule of law. Being 37th globally on one side is something we should be happy about considering where we are coming from as a country. It is a good thing. However, from the 37th to the first there is still a considerable journey moving forward. But this only means more work to sustain our gains, as well as continue building on them to achieve our other aspirations.
The upcoming initiatives around promotion of mediation should be expedited as they present a real alternative to litigation, a better way to resolve disputes and conflicts that places disputants at the center of the resolution of the resolution of their own disputes avoiding too many arguments and expensive processes. In that case, disagreements are solved without having to go to courts, which might make the process longer and end up with one side feeling treated unfairly.
If the public, whatever size of it, perceives the judiciary or another justice institution as corrupt, inefficient, ineffective, or influenced by those with power; with such an image and reputation, we should ask ourselves why citizens or residents of Rwanda see it that way and do what needs to be done to change that.
Once again, let me congratulate those who have just taken their oath of office, and promise them my collaboration and full support towards achieving our desired progress as Rwandans.