Five partners working together for better access to justice in Burundi

BurundiLocal justiceNews

Bujumbura (Burundi), 7 December 2017 – After several months of preparation, the official launch of the “Menya Utunganirwe” (“Know and Assert Your Rights”) project took place last week in Bujumbura. Avocats Sans Frontières, the bar associations of Bujumbura and Gitega, and two civil society organisations, the Association pour la Paix et les Droits de l’Homme and the Association des Femmes Juristes du Burundi, came together with a shared objective: bringing people closer to justice, by facilitating access to justice through local mechanisms which respond to their concerns and address their needs. Despite being a recognised right, access to justice remains difficult for the majority of Burundian citizens. One of the problems they face is a lack of knowledge about procedures, due in part to their complexity and to the high rate of illiteracy. Citizens are not informed. “Selling your patch of land to pay for a legal procedure, is that a solution?”, asks Sistor Havyarimana, ASF Project Coordinator. “The individual must have the ability to be informed of the possibilities that exist and make a choice according to their situation.” Distance and poor access to lawyers also restrict access to justice. “Conflicts can escalate: a simple dispute over property could lead to a murder, when an earlier intervention might have yielded a peaceful solution.” Mr Arcade Harerimana, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice, and Ms Christella Kankindi, head of the “Demande de Justice” (“Demand for Justice”) coordinating group, stressed that the right to access to justice is enshrined in the Ministry’s sectoral policy. Nonetheless, they both highlighted the obstacles that exist for many vulnerable citizens. “This vulnerability may be financial, personal (age, sickness, education, religion, etc.), or it could be linked to the nature of the problem,” explains Ms Kankindi. That is why ASF and its partners have committed themselves to spending five years working together on a project made up of three approaches: The “Menya Utunganirwe” project is funded by the Belgian Development Cooperation. >> Download the document presenting the project (PDF in French).
– Picture above: the official ceremony for the launch of the project was held on 1 December in Bujumbura © Papy Amani for ASF – Cover picture: awaireness-raising session about land rights in Bubanza © APDH