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July 20, 2023

Alternative Dispute Resolution: A tool in reducing backlog in courts

Approved by the cabinet last year, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) was presented to provide a framework that would help offer various changes in regards to accessing justice.

Through this new approach, the government hoped to promote the culture of amicable problem-solving in society as well as equipping more people with skills to settle disputes.

As a way of embracing and implementing this, Haguruka has advanced its interventions pertaining to the promotion of Alternative Dispute Resolution(ADR) as sustained efforts to promote the culture of “problem-solving in families and reinforce amicable settlement of disputes.”

As part of activities supporting this cause, there have been preparation exercises of Abunzi training, ADR policy awareness raising, among other activities.

For instance, in the framework of building the capacities of ADR structures to facilitate citizens to resolve their disputes amicably, Haguruka, sponsored by Norwegian People’s Aid, organized a training of members of Abunzi committees in Ruhango district with the ultimate goal of sharpening them with skills in mediation techniques, key laws relevant to their functions and gender and inclusion.

For this approach to be successful, there is need for prior engagement of district officials on the intervention needed for its successful implementation and make intervention more responsive.

There is also a need to embark on bridging the capacity gap on one hand and investing in awareness of the comparative advantages of ADR to be more preventive than responsive.

There is a need to invest in building the capacity of ADR structures in conflict resolution/ mediation techniques and provide similar training to other ADR structures and promote equal understanding of similar content.

Full engagement of local leaders to own ADR philosophy and coordination is recommended to ensure the sustainability of current interventions.

The Ministry of Justice and its stakeholders such as Ministry of Local Government should join hands to design collective measures to resolve the issue of the working environment of Abunzi for them to be more effective in service delivery.

The relevance of ADR policy is varied for example it is key in promoting social cohesion among Rwandans. However for this to be achieved, there is need for attention from local leaders on ADR policy as far as delivering less costly, accessible and restorative justice is concerned. Local leaders ought to play their rightful role of decentralizing ADR Policy philosophy to ordinary citizens to save citizens from costly justice.

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