“Before the training, I did not know or even have an insight on different organs which intervene in the Abunzi channel when resolving community conflict,” said Mukarugabane Jacqueline, a training participant. Between 15th and 20th April 2019, Haguruka has organized and conducted a training program of the community dialogue facilitators on her ole of Abunzi, and this was supported/funded by USAID Duteze Imbere Ubutabera through Chemonics International Inc under a 3-years activity of Access to Justice. The trained was conducted in the five (5) districts (Gasabo, Musanze, Bugesera, Nyaruguru, and Nyamasheke).
The main objectives of the training in relation to community dialogue facilitators on the role of Abunze include, but not limited to (1) Empowering community dialogue facilitator with capacities to increase public understanding of the Abunzi system in order for the Citizens understand the mechanism as an effective means for dispute resolution, (2) reactivating the role of community dialogues facilitators to increase public understanding of the Judicial rights and process to empower citizens to engage the Judicial process, and (3) even capacitating them on the key responsibilities of Abunzi.
For Haguruka to know the facilitators’ understanding of the role of Abunzi in Justice, we opted the methodology of using pretext and post-test during the training program. From the results, it has been realized that the notion of mediation and conciliation were not well known and differentiated; where Abunzi were considered as judges by the participant, as well as some of them were not informed on when and why the Abunzi started.
Based on the aforementioned gap, Haguruka focused much more on providing the community dialogues facilitators with explanation and exploration of the legal framework on the Abunzi so that they can understand and know all the organs which intervene in the Abunzi system, especially the Abunzi themselves, the executive secretaries, and even ministries.
Moreover, during the training, the participants discovered the meaning and difference between mediation and conciliation. They were equipped with skills related methods used by Abunzi when resolving conflicts; the first one of helping conflictual parties to propose themselves solutions to their case, if not possible the panel proposes a solution to the parties, if not it takes a final decision. Also, they were provided with a clear explanation about a distinction between judges and Abunzi, along with some key terminologies associated with such difference.
It has been realized that the participants have come to understand the existence of Abunzi and know their role/ contribution in the community, but they ignored their working procedures like the role of executive secretary in the Abunzi system. Concerning this issue, all stages from the registration of cases, summon of parties, notifications, appeals procedures, and even on the execution of the Abunzi decision were clearly explained.
All in all, the conducted training was fruitful at a level where all the expectation of the participants at the beginning of training were effectively attained and satisfied. The training has also led to Haguruka’s satisfaction towards putting into practice its intervention of capacity building of the community dialogues facilitators who are known to have an essential contribution in conflict resolution and prevention in the Rwandan community.
“I’m so excited and grateful to attend this training because it has helped me to really understand and know clearly the cases that can be submitted to the Abunzi and those ones to be submitted to the Rwanda Investigation Bureau,” said Mukarugabane Jacqueline, after attending the training program.