This Assessment on the Barriers to Effective Access to Justice for Girls and Women with Disabilities in Rwanda was conducted by the Legal Aid Forum (LAF), in partnership with the Rwandan Organisation of Women with Disabilities (UNABU), and with financial support from the Disability Rights Fund. Its aims are three-fold: examining the existing level of access to justice for girls and women with disabilities, identifying barriers and gaps in law and policy, and scrutinizing the role of different organizations and institutions in access to justice by women and girls with disabilities. This assessment is based on (1) information gathered through a desk review of laws, policies, conventions and existing publications such as research reports, and (2) qualitative research in the form of interviews with key stakeholders and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with women and girls with disabilities.
Findings demonstrate the Government of Rwanda’s significant progress in developing a legal, policy and institutional framework that streamlines legal aid in order to ensure universal and affordable quality justice. The assessment nevertheless found that there are still significant gaps and barriers, which prevent women and girls with disabilities from effectively accessing justice. In some cases, this is due to inappropriate or inadequate laws or policy gaps and in others, poor implementation of existing laws and policies. Key associated recommendations to improve women and girls’ effective access to justice therefore include (1) legal and policy reform, (2) improvement of the accessibility of court documents, (3) improvement of the physical accessibility of justice premises, (4) legal literacy, (5) training and capacity building, (6) increased planning for legal aid, and (7) disability mainstreaming data collection.
Keywords: Access to justice; Legal aid; Women and girls with disabilities; Rwanda.