One UN supports International Human Rights Law application in Rwanda

Jan 29, 2013

38 Rwandan judges were trained on the application of the International Human Rights Law in national courts (Photo: UNDP/Nausicaa Habimana Kantengwa)

During two days, 38 Rwandan judges and registrars from Intermediate and Primary Courts were trained on the application of the International Human Rights law, international standards for the administration of justice and international guarantees on the independence of the judiciaries. The workshop was organized by the One UN Rwanda in collaboration with the Supreme Court and the Institute for Legal Practice and Development (ILPD), aiming at increasing the participants’ knowledge on international Human Rights conventions and international guarantees for Human Rights.

The training relates to the recommendations of the UN Human Rights Council as a result of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). In 2011, Rwanda was subjected to the UPR. Under the auspices of the Human rights council, the UPR is conducted regularly by peer states to view the human rights situation in a particular country. Out of the 73 recommendations, Rwanda has accepted 67, amongst which key ones related to the independence of the judiciary, the pursuit of the justice system reform and universal access to justice.

The One UN Rwanda supported the Government of Rwanda in developing a roadmap guiding the implementation of the UPR recommendations which includes the need to train judges, prosecutors and judicial personnel on International Human Rights law. “The Rwandan Constitution makes it an obligation for all the judiciary to be the guardians of the Human rights of people, to ensure that those rights are observed, and enforced. It is therefore very important that we, as judges, understand the nature of Human rights, whether under our constitution and our laws or under international laws, as expressed in the international conventions” stated Hon. Dr. Sam Rugege, the President of the Supreme Court in his opening remarks.

Speaking at the opening ceremony on behalf of the organizers, Mr. Chris Mburu, Human Rights Advisor to the UN Rwanda (United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) explained that “the UN is the custodian of these international conventions and treaties, and we are very keen to have countries that are member states of the UN apply these principles in their judiciary systems”. Mr. Mburu further said that this is the 1st in a series of trainings that are going to be held around the country. With the support of UNDP this flagship program of the One UN Rwanda will build the capacity of more than 400 judges and registrars around the country on the domestication of International law of Human Rights.

Ms. Madeleine Nirere, Chairperson of the National Commission for Human Rights, commended UNDP for its support to the Country’s Judiciary Sector, and emphasized the importance of enhancing judges’ knowledge on the International Human Rights norms. In his remarks, the Country Director of UNDP, Mr. Auke Lootsma, pointed out that “access to Justice for all and the skills of judicial personnel is at the heart of this strategy in order to guarantee protection of everyone’s rights”.

The participants observed that Human Rights are well respected in Rwandan courts, as there are principles from the Constitution, by which judges must abide for fair trials.  However, the current challenge is to look for the best method to implement them. With this training “we hope to conduct a critical evaluation, to hear what the experts think of our system. We will also conduct a self-assessment to see if what they say is what we apply in our courts, and to compare our level with what is mandatory in the international Human rights law” said Ms. Kiza Fabienne Kabagambe , the Presiding Judge of Muhanga High Court, in the Southern Province of Rwanda.

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