Elevating the role of evidence-based advocacy by civil society organizations (CSOs) in Rwanda and encouraging increased media attention to such work were twin themes highlighted at a workshop organized by the University of Massachusetts Boston and its partner, Human Rights First Rwanda Association (HRFRA), under the auspices of the Strengthening Rwandan Administrative Justice Project (SRAJ).The project, an ongoing three-year initiative funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is implemented by the Center for Peace, Democracy, and Development (CPDD) at UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies.
The event, held in Kigali, Rwanda, and attended by over 25 different CSOs and media representatives, was designed to foster a strategic dialogue among the participants on ways in which CSOs (particularly legal aid organizations) and journalists could better inform and enrich each other’s work in support of administrative justice in Rwanda.
Administrative justice concerns the safeguarding of fairness and legality in the issuance of government decisions affecting individual citizens and businesses, including decisions in the spheres of labor regulation and land expropriation, topics of special interest to the participants. Administrative justice is especially concerned with the extent to which citizens are informed about their rights in the decision-making process, able to present evidence on their behalf, and afforded meaningful opportunities for appeal.
A workshop participant calls for more innovative awareness-raising strategies in administrative justice.
The assembled participants discussed ways in which better information-gathering and information-sharing among legal aid practitioners and the general public could assist citizens in advancing their interests in the administrative process, while also holding relevant government officials to account.
“We wanted CSO representatives and journalists to discuss the importance of evidence-based advocacy work in this area, but also brainstorm about how such work could be made more visible and accessible to the public,” said HRFRA workshop organizer Brenda Kayitesi.
The workshop, and others …