A new information and communication technology system has been developed to help fast-track the delivery of justice by community mediation committees (Abunzi) in discharging their responsibilities to deliver quick service to the population.
Dubbed “RISD ICT4D,” the application was developed by Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development (RISD) to help mediators in mapping, monitoring, recording, analysing and reporting land related disputes and mediation mechanisms at the grassroots.
The tool will also support local leaders in mapping and recording disputes through community focal persons.
RISD ICT4D is a system that will be installed in smartphones only for permitted users. The system has four different components which are data collection, data analysis, data back-up and information sharing.
Speaking at the launch of the system, last week, Annie Kairaba, the RISD managing director, said the system is part of implementation of RISD’s five-year programme.
“Our specific relationship with mediators is that they always deal with gathering information on disputes, we have given them books to use, but we found out that information sharing issues was persistent. That is why we came up with the idea to develop this tool through which the analysis and sharing could be carried out technologically,” she said.
“The system will help in doing quick analysis because during the tryout phase; it was found that data which could be processed for two weeks, in the system it can only take ten minutes to be completed,” Kairaba added.
She said the system was developed to be an interactive facility that allows the sharing of information among stakeholders instead of relying on physical meetings.
“We are convinced that this tool is a breakthrough toward sustainable strategies in reducing land-related disputes as it eases identification, recording, and reporting of disputes. This will ensure timely management of disputes by various relevant institutions in particular mediators, Access to Justice Bureau (MAJ) and local leaders,” Kairaba said.
The system will be implemented in 11 districts where RISD operates.
Isabelle Kalihangabo, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice, hailed the initiative and appreciated the existing partnership with RISD in supporting the access to justice especially mediators and MAJ in terms of capacity building.
She said the system is a tool for efficient monitoring of land related disputes in which mediators will be key in championing of the system in data collection and processing the report with the usual support of the ministry through MAJ bureaus.
“Some of the uses of this system include information sharing, updates of the interventions to further strengthen management mechanisms at the grassroots level, record keeping, and tracking further recommendations,” Kalihangabo said.
“Establishing this system will help the Ministry of Justice to efficiently monitor land-related disputes, and will allow better reporting and decision-making.”
Joseline Ingabire, the president of mediation committee at Kimironko Sector, where a pilot phase for the application was conducted, said they expect good changes in their working structure.
“The first benefit we have observed is moving from reporting by using hard copies to soft copies. We are sure that people who need to access our reports will easily get them from wherever they are,” Ingabire said.
Abunzi were introduced in 2004 as a home grown approach to justice, combining traditional with modern methods of conflict resolution, the idea being motivated by the desire to reduce the backlog of court cases, decentralise justice and make it more affordable and accessible for citizens as it is with the conventional justice system.
They serve on a volunteer and non remunerated basis. According to the Ministry of Justice, in 2014/2015, Abunzi committees received 40,111 cases country; among them 30,719 were civil and 9,392 criminal cases.
Some 36,830 were mediated and closed by Abunzi, which represent 80.5 per cent of total cases treated.