Following False Accusations and Unjust Imprisonment, an Innocent Man is Freed by his IBJ Lawyer

“The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood,” said Martin Luther King, Jr. From the time of the initial legal needs assessment made for Rwanda in 2006, IBJ has made great strides in spreading that essential seed of hope of which Martin Luther King spoke in the quote above. In this genocide-ravaged country, IBJ has fostered a growing community of like-minded “disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice,” and … Continue Reading →

Kigali Skills Workshop Hones Defender Skills and Trains Trainers

It was quite hot in Kigali on July 20th 2011. Despite the heat, 30 defense lawyers gathered at IBJ’s Rwanda office for a skills building training workshop to strengthen their ability to advocate for the rights of their clients. Kellie Krake, IBJ’s Training Director and an American lawyer with years of criminal defense experience, and John Busco Bugingo, the head of IBJ Rwanda, were at the helm of this intense training workshop. Participants were very eager to share their values, stories, and … Continue Reading →

Criminal Defense Task Force Meeting Cements Commitment of Volunteer Lawyers in Rwanda

On 26th November, twenty lawyers from the Criminal Defense Task Force gathered in IBJ’s Kigali DRC to discuss challenges facing the justice system in Rwanda, with a particular emphasis on how to ensure access to legal counsel at the earliest stage of the criminal process and the implementation of the principle of the presumption of innocence. The objective of this Justice Café meeting was to come up with concrete solutions to challenges that ordinary defendants face regarding these issues. A … Continue Reading →

IBJ’s Glossary Creates Sensation at EALS Conference

On November 19th and 20th, IBJ Rwanda Fellow John Bosco Bugingo, IBJ Burundi Fellow Astère Muyango and one of IBJ Burundi’s Legal Fellows, Janvier Ncamatwi, attended the East Africa Law Society (EALS) Annual General Meeting and Conference hosted by the Burundi Bar Association at the Hotel Celexon in Bujumbura, Burundi. The theme of the conference was “One East Africa: Democracy and Good Governance” and it aimed to bring together lawyers from different countries in the East African region. With IBJ’s aim of … Continue Reading →

Justice has no border

In March 2010, an IBJ lawyer received a troubling phone call from a Ugandan acquaintance. He was expressing his distress for a 34-year-old Ugandan who had just been convicted of homicide, despite the serious legal deficiencies which marred the procedure. Crushed by this all too common story of injustice, the IBJ lawyer knew he had to do something. Unemployed then, the accused had accepted to drive a family of Ugandans to Rwanda for a wedding. Unfortunately, while he was driving, … Continue Reading →

“I was flogged for a crime I did not commit”

During a routine visit to Rwanda’s Gitarama central prison – considered one of the most overcrowded prisons on earth – the IBJ team of lawyers met with a demobilized soldier detained since 2007. To protect his identity, we will refer him to as ‘Pascal’. In November 2007, Pascal met his friends outside the city of Gitarama to supposedly steal a car. One of his friends never showed up. It is said he instead alerted the police. The vehicle that was … Continue Reading →

New Project Encourages Regional Integration in East Africa

In light of the growing East Africa integration, International Bridges to Justice has embarked on a new project which aims at institutionalizing best defender practices among East African lawyers. IBJ is teaming up with the East Africa Law Society (EALS), the premier regional bar association, to develop an East Africa Legal Defense Manual that will help lawyers improve their skills and knowledge in the area of criminal law and defense. The EALS brings together over 7000 lawyers from the six … Continue Reading →

Second Justice Café Discussion Strengthens Kigali Criminal Defense Task Force

Building on the momentum of its legal defense training workshops and other awareness-raising activities, IBJ Rwanda has established a core group of 23 dedicated lawyers who are reunited in the Criminal Defense Task Force. They meet regularly to identify and discuss key challenges they face in their daily work and suggest solutions for improvement. On the 30th of September, the Task Force met at the DRC in Kigali to discuss the difficulties in providing legal aid to indigents in Rwandan … Continue Reading →

Challenging Unlawful Accusation in Rwanda: the story of “Mark” and IBJ lawyer Dative Mujawamariya

Dative Mujawamariya is one IBJ Legal Task Force Lawyer who has been relentless in her efforts to facilitate access to justice in Rwanda. Dative participated in the two IBJ trainings and attended mentoring sessions at the Kigali CDRC, which she indicates have greatly helped her develop and assert her legal skills. She agreed to volunteer with IBJ and has already taken eight cases. On August 11th 2010, Dative took on the case of a 27 year-old-man accused of rape. The … Continue Reading →

My first visit to Kigali Central Prison

I have been working for IBJ as Rwanda Office Coordinator since March, but it was not until August that I decided to visit a prison. When I arrived at the main gate the first thing the guards asked me for was my identification. They also asked if I was a lawyer. Later, I spoke with one of the lawyers who had come to visit a prisoner, and she told me that all lawyers are allowed to enter freely into the … Continue Reading →