Rwanda Bar Association and Rwanda Correctional Service in a fresh drive to promote access to justice for inmates

Access to justice for all and Human Rights Promotion and Protection constitutes one of the important pillars of the Rule of Law and proper administration of Justice.
In a State that respects the Rule of Law, every citizen is protected by the law without any discrimination.
In order to promote equal access to Justice for all, the State ensures that the indigents and the most vulnerable people in the community access justice despite their inability to afford the cost of legal services.
It is in that regard that the Rwanda Bar Association, in collaboration with the Rwanda Correctional Services (RCS) with the financial support of a USAID-funded “Duteze Imbere Ubutabera (DIU)” project have conducted legal aid activities for inmates in 6 prisons: Bugesera, Muhanga, Huye, Rusizi, Rubavu and Musanze, since Monday 26th August until 29th August 2019 in what they called the “Advocates’ Week”.

Advocates from Rwanda Bar Association and Prisons’ Legal Officers and other Prisons’ staff concerned with human rights joined their efforts to conduct the week-long legal aid activities in prisons.
The initiative aimed at raising inmates’ awareness on the identified key laws (rights, procedures and obligations) as well as enabling them to access legal support on their individual legal issues/cases. Activities implemented during the “Advocates’ week” include conducting legal education in prisons on the Criminal procedure law and Inmates duties & rights, providing legal advice, legal assistance/representation to identified most vulnerable inmates, conducting advocacy & follow up actions on issues affecting vulnerable inmates.

At the end of the advocates’ week, more than 19,000 inmates in the 6 selected prisons were educated on the criminal procedures as well as on their duties and rights. Further, around 1,000 inmates benefited from legal advice and assistance on their individual legal issues/cases.

The activities which are being conducted under this joint program fall under the objectives of the National Legal Aid Policy which was adopted by the Government of Rwanda through the Ministry of Justice in 2014.