On 22nd July 2014, from 12:00 to 13:00, the chairperson of the South Africa Human Rights Commission and president of the ICC, Honorable Mabedle Lawrence Mushwana and his delegation visited the Secretariat of the Legal Aid Forum and had a meeting with the Executive Director of the Legal Aid Forum, Mr. Andrews Kananga. The delegation included MsVivian Makunda, a researcher at the SA Human Rights Commission, Ms Umutoni Aissa and Mr. Niwerukundo Claude both officers from the Rwanda National Commission on Human Rights.
Honorable Mabedle Lawrence Mushwana ( second right) and his delegation AT LAF offices
This was one of the working visits by the chairperson Mr. Mabedle Lawrence Mushwana. He had basically come to Rwanda to see the running of the Rwanda National Commission on Human Rights but he also wanted to see the work of the Civil Society in Rwanda. Honorable Mushwana wanted to knowabout the work of the Legal Aid Forum and the collaboration of LAF with the Rwanda National Human Rights Commission.
The Executive Director of LAF explaining the work of LAF to visitors
Mr. Andrews Kananga told the visitors that the Rwanda National Human Rights Commission( NHRC)is part of the justice sector in Rwanda as so is the civil society. He told them that the Commission and LAF work hand in hand and the commission gives referrals to LAF under its program of legal representation of the indigents who cannot afford to pay for legal services rendered by lawyers. He is also told about the developments and achievements that LAF has sustained to include the just concluded National Legal Aid plan, increased rights awareness and outreach, increased legal aid services and increased collaboration among legal aid service providers.
Honorable Mushwana listening carefully about the activities of LAF
The chair person was impressed by the activities of the organization and unity that LAF has which is not the case in South Africa because there are many civil society bodies that happen not to be united under one network just as LAF does. Honorable Mushwanawent ahead to explain that the civil society, the commission and Government need to sit on a round table and discuss.
"Most conflicts in Africa arise because we do not talk and discuss enough" said Honorable Mushwana. He further noted that it is very important for the NHRC to work with the civil society because they have a greater outreach, the commission is funded by the government which has limited resources, the civil society has a bigger and greater research ground with deep, analytical and maximum evidence and advocacy by having credible sources of information. If the NGOS/ civil society are in existence, the government should collaborate with them because they help in the construction and progress of the justice system. Therefore government should talk to civil society and understand where it is coming from and the reasons for that particular movement.The meeting ended with words of encouragement from Honorable Mushwana that he was happy with the organization of the civil society in Rwanda under LAF and the collaboration between LAF and NHRC.