Monitoring of EDPRS (2008-2012) indicators in the justice sector: Enforcement of court judgment and its impact on access to justice in Rwanda

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This assessment monitoring EDPRS (2008-2012) indicators in the justice sector was published by Legal Aid Forum (LAF), with funding from the Belgian Embassy in Kigali. Its primary purpose is to monitor and evaluate the enforcement of court judgements in Rwanda, a central issue of access to justice as it represents the last step in obtaining justice for a claimant. Primarily quantitative research methods were used in the form of questionnaires targeting those trying to enforce or having enforced their court judgement (claimants) and those persons responsible for enforcement (enforcement agents). Key findings were extrapolated from responses to these questionnaires as well as Focus Group Discussions (FGDs).

The findings discussed in this report clearly highlight problems with enforcement in Rwanda. Claimants wait longer than the legal three-month delay for enforcement, many enforcement agents are not sufficiently competent to be carrying out their role of enforcement, claimants lack confidence in the enforcement of their court judgements, and defendants are either reluctant to pay and/or do not understand the finality of a court judgement. This report recommends the following to improve enforcement regimes: (1) raising awareness amongst the general public on the importance of court judgements; (2) discharging executive secretaries from their enforcement role, which could be taken over by alternative enforcement agents; (3) further clarifying fees, determining whether those fees should be uniform and fixed by the Professional Bailiff Association or by the Ministry of Justice, and examining how fees are charged; (4) engaging in a legal reform in order to further solidify an improved enforcement regimes; and (5) encouraging judges to write clear judgements to avoid confusion and the delays caused where an enforcement agent must return to court for clarification of a judgement.

Keywords: Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (2008-2012); Enforcement of court judgments; Access to Justice; Rwanda.

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