Mediation Committees (Abunzi) is a Rwanda Home Grown Solution. In the traditional Rwanda, Abunzi were persons known within their communities for personal integrity and were asked to intervene in the event of conflict. As per efforts to reconstruct Rwanda after the Genocide of Tutsi of 1994, the judicial system was reformed. That is how Mediation Committees (Abunzi) were reintroduced in 2004. It is a hybrid form of justice combining traditional with modern methods of conflict resolution. The idea to bring back this form of justice delivery was motivated in part by the desire to reduce the backlog of court cases, as well as to decentralize justice and make it more affordable and accessible for citizens seeking to resolve conflict without the cost of going to court.
Today Abunzi is fully integrated into Rwanda’s justice system. The Abunzi Committee exists at cell and sector level (appeal) in every District and its members are elected by the members of their community. Each Committee is comprised of seven (7) members who elect their President and Vice President, their role is to act as mediators between parties in dispute both civil and criminal matters rather than to be a Judge, they have to be persons of integrity in their community”.
The Abunzi Committee has the jurisdictional powers to preside over civil matters whose value does not exceed three million (3,000,000) Rwandan francs. Abunzi Committees are governed by the Law N˚ 37/2016 of 08/09/2016 determining organisation, jurisdiction, competence and functioning of an Abunzi Committee but of course there are other previous laws which were repealed.
2. Abunzi statistics
The total number of Members of Abunzi committees is 17,941 among them men are 9,988 (55, 67%) and women are 7, 953(44, 33%).
The total Number of Committees is 2563 among them the number of committees at cell level is 2147 and 416 at sector level.
3. Abunzi achievements:
In 2013/2014, Abunzi committees received 45,285 cases Country wide. 36,441 cases were mediated and handled which represent 80.5% . Among them 36,940 were civil and 8,345 criminal cases.
In 2014/2015, Abunzi committees received 40111 cases all over the Country, among them 30,719 were civil and 9,392 criminal cases.
Out of 40,111 received cases, 36,830 were mediated and closed by Abunzi, which represent 80.5% of the total cases received.
In 2015/2016, Abunzi Committees received 47, 966 cases where 35,953 were civil cases and 12,013 criminal cases. In total, 44,679 were successfully handled by Abunzi and only 786 cases were oriented to courts.
N.B Before the Law of 2016 above mentioned, Abunzi Committees had jurisdictions over minor criminal cases.
The Government of Rwanda is providing incentives to support Abunzi, specifically in Mutual health Insurance “Mutuelle de santé” to every Committee member and 4 members of his/her family.
Also the Government has provided them with mobile telephones and it is paying airtime charges for them in order to facilitate them to communicate free of charge. In addition, the tender process for transport facilitation is in progress.