• Your excellency, Chief Justice; Honourable Minister of Justice and Attorney General; Honourable Minister of ICT;
  • Excellences Ambassadors; Heads of Diplomatic Missions and Cooperation Agencies;
  • Senior Government Officials here present,
  • Distinguished Delegates from abroad,
  • Distinguished representatives of civil society organizations, private sector and the media;
  • My dear Colleagues from the UN Family,
  • Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
  • All protocols observed.

Good Morning, Bonjour, mwaramutse neza.  

To the delegates who have come from abroad to attend this important conference, I say “MURAKAZA NEZA MU RWANDA. Welcome to Rwanda, the Country of a Thousand Hills and a Million Smiles!

It gives me great pleasure and honour to be here today to make these remarks on behalf of the United Nations Development programme.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to express at the outset my sincere appreciation and gratitude to the Honourable Chief Justice, the Minister of Justice, and the entire leadership of the Justice Sector, for organizing this Conference.This conference is timely, and it is important.

Today, we are examining ways in which new technologies are transforming the lives of people, changing the way service is delivered, and radically departing from the way business has been done for decades.

For me, speaking both personally and professionally, it has been a real pleasure working in a country like Rwanda, which has shown a readiness to innovate and try new approaches. The country is neither short on ideas nor on the courage to put those ideas to the test. And we have seen so many areas where Rwanda is using new technologies to drive social and economic transformation and, in the process, improve the lives of its people. Many of you would have heard of the country’s use of Drone technology to deliver blood and medicine to people in remote and inaccessible locations. When I first heard of this I was truly amazed; because this is a lesser developed country with limited financial resources. But this is testimony to something my father used to say, you may be short on money, but never be short on ideas.

Ladies and gentlemen, as it turns out, the drones are only one example of how Rwanda is integrating ICT in all sectors as a strategy for fast tracking transformation, accelerating development and moving to a knowledge-based society.

Distinguished participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,

While people tend to see ICT as a tool for businesses, experience is showing that there is no boundaries for the use of ICT. It can be used to improve governance, to transform social services, and improve human well-being in multiple dimensions. Access to justice is one of those dimensions.

We are all aware of the SDG Agenda. And we all know how important justice and rule of law are to the development of a country. But we also know that justice is rarely accessible by everyone, and that there are numerous obstacles that certain population groups face in accessing justice or other services. We all know it. We all have been in remote villages in different countries and wondered, “How do these people get to school?” Or, “What happens if there is an emergency, where is the closest hospital?” Or, how would someone with a disability here access certain buildings or services?

And it is also the same with access to justice. Sometimes a poor rural person will have to travel for miles to get to a court, only to find that the date has been postponed and they will have to travel back and return another day.

This is why the Integrated Electronic Case Management System (IECMS) is so important. It plays a key role in the implementation of the SDG agenda, and in helping us to achieve the Leave No One Behind mandate.

Distinguished participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are privileged today to have in this conference participants from different countries that have implemented integrated case management systems. And, I am pleased that the host country, Rwanda, will showcase the first and perhaps most comprehensive Integrated Electronic Case Management System in Africa which serves as a single point of entry for all justice sector institutions.

When UNDP started partnering with the Ministry of Justice on the system back in 2013, whether it was feasible to implement such a system, and the perceived risks were high. It was a very new and ambitious initiative, involving many institutions of the justice sector and beyond; it required skilled human resources, new ICT equipment and internet connection etc. But we also understood the potential benefits. Such a system could substantially reduce travel time and costs for poor citizens who would no longer need to travel long distances to file their cases in distant courts and tribunals. Women in the quest for justice would also find access to justice easier. The system could also reduce delays and transaction costs associated with judicial cases and generally improve justice delivery through the entire justice chain from investigation to correctional service.

We believe the new system has been able to do all that, and more. Moreover, the system has shown that with the right mindset we can find solutions to major and recurring development challenges that our countries face. As a bonus, the system as received various international and regional awards, which I am sure you will hear more about.

Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,

Before I close, I do want to seek your support for one thing, which is to help ensure that these systems can enhance justice delivery to not only the poor, but to those who are most at risk of being left behind, including persons with disabilities. This is a key mission of UNDP and the entire UN system. To find solutions that are inclusive, and that reach those who are at the last mile.

In order for the benefits of these systems to reach all, we need in-depth analyses of the special needs of persons with disabilities or the poorest in remote rural areas. We need to understand the unique challenges that they face. And here again I wish to commend the GoR for undertaking to prepare an access to justice disability strategy which will hopefully shed more light on what is needed to include persons with disability. I urge all of you here today, to consider how the blind, the deaf or hard of hearing, the mentally disabled, the elderly and the poor and illiterate citizens without ICT skills can equally benefit from the new technologies.

Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,

In closing allow me to reiterate UNDP’s commitment to help promote the Rule of Law in Rwanda and across the continent, including through support for experience sharing events such as this.

In Kinyarwanda there is a saying, “Akanyoni katagurutse ntikamenya iyo bweze”! Which basically means “A bird that never flies far will never know where the grains are ripe”.  You have all come from far to learn and share experiences. I sincerely wish you very fruitful deliberations and thank you very much for your kind attention.

Murak

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