- More than 600 children in prisons throughout Rwanda will have access to legal assistance under a new programme launched by the Ministry of Justice and supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The Legal Aid Week brings together the courts, the national police and lawyers with prison officers to clear the backlog of children’s cases around the nation, as well as conduct a survey of minors and conditions in prisons, according to a news release issued by UNICEF yesterday.
“This week is an important step to realising justice for children in conflict with the law,” said Dr Joseph Foumbi, the agency’s Representative in Rwanda.
“These children have been in prison without trial and I would like to appreciate the efforts of the Government of Rwanda for inaugurating a week to ensure that the rights of these children are met,” he added.
Dr Foumbi also acknowledged the progress that has been made on the long-awaited Legal Aid Law, which has now been approved by the lower chamber of Parliament and would create a fund to cover legal aid costs associated with trying cases of vulnerable people, including children.
“However, we must also work together to ensure that there are alternative corrective measures for children in conflict with the law, other than prison,” he stated.
The UN in Rwanda is working closely with the Government and its partners to enhance juvenile justice, including through building up the capacity of police officers, lawyers and judges in this area.
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