Justice, Reconciliation, Laws & Order Sector Strategies (JRLOs) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working in justice sector have revealed the constraints and success made during a three- year project “Strengthening Rwanda Civil Society Organization ‘capacity to influence policy.

It is a project that was initiated and implemented by Ihorere Munyarwanda (IMRO), Health Development Initiative (HDI), Great Lakes Initiative for Human Rights and Development (GLIHD) and Rwanda NGOs Forum for HIV/AIDS and Health Promotion in 12 Districts of Rwanda.

The project that is phasing out in June 2022, aimed at decreasing the mistrust and misconception of some government officials who consider CSOs as organizations that work for their own and donors’ interests by negatively reporting different issues of the country in which they operate.

Charlotte Mukandungutse, the project coordinator revealed that after meeting and deeply sharing ideas with the CSOs and JRLOs members, a significant improvement has been made and there is a reason to celebrate despite some challenges in justice and human rights sector in Rwanda.

CSOs members revealed their pride as the project has increased the awareness of mind-set change and stereotypes that these organizations are disguised in helping poor and vulnerable people while their real hidden agenda is to tarnish the image of the country to please their donors and sponsors.

“This is now three years of this project implementation, there is still poor cross-collaboration but we have realised some positive changes where government actors no longer consider us as rivals and tools of donors whose aim is to negatively criticize and report negative issues of our country, thanks to this project they understand that we are here as partners to help government achieve its goals and objectives. We all work for the interests of the citizen, this is one of the major achievements we are proud of and wish to increase for the betterment of the citizens’ rights and justice”. She said.

Kabera Nyiraneza Ange, Civil registrar officer of Rwezamenyo Sector, Nyarugenge District said that JRLOs and CSOs have still a huge task of educating Rwandan citizens on legal procedures, otherwise social economic development will hardly be attained.

“Citizens in our society do not have high understanding on judicial process, even when, as leaders try to help them legally, some of them show dissatisfaction by seeking higher officials. At this stage they spend most of their time for instance resisting executed trials and they end up in extreme poverty because they do not have time to work for their families” She said.

CSOs organization desire to have a significant contribution in justice sector priorities at the District level within imihigo to tackle the issues that negatively affect the achievement of justice and human rights.

 

According to Jean de Dieu Nkurunziza, Civil Registrar of Nyamirambo Sector, the meeting leaves an exercise for both government authorities and CSOs to fulfil their duties and improve on.

“I appreciate this meeting, I have gained more about how CSOs operate in the interests of our citizens. But, we are challenged by over tasks which results in not fully fulfilling our duties of deeply educating our people we were employed to serve, that is why most of them tend to take their complaints to high level officials” He noted.

Cresence Mukantabana, Executive Director of Réseau de Development des Femmes Pauvres au Rwanda and Vice-president of Nyarugenge District Joint Action Forum (DJAF), the project has contributed in reducing this mistrust because, both government and CSOs work exclusively on the centre of citizens’ interests.

He appreciated the project saying: “I really tell you that Nyarugenge District recognises your contribution as CSOs, I recommend the concerned entities to sustain what you have implemented within these three years, and project phase-out should not be project mission end.” She urged the participants.

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