In December 2015, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI), in partnership with Rwanda’s Institute of Legal Practice and Development, hosted a two-day workshop on the judiciary and transparency in public finance management. Held in the capital Kigali, the workshop was attended by 35 representatives from four Great Lakes region countries.
Workshop participants included magistrates, lawyers, and civil society and government representatives from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo and Rwanda.
Participants included magistrates, lawyers, and civil society and government representatives from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo and Rwanda. The event was also attended by U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda Erica Barks-Ruggles, Rwandan Deputy Chief Justice Zainabu Kayitesi and Permanent Secretary at the Rwandan Ministry of Justice Isabelle Kalihangabo.
The December 9–10 workshop was organized to increase judges’ and lawyers’ understanding of regional and international legal instruments and to build their capacity to foster the justice system’s involvement in the control mechanisms of public finance and the fight against impunity for mismanagement of public affairs. Saudubray Francis, a judge at the Paris Court of Accounts and an international expert on public finance control, served as moderator and led discussions on the principles of public finance management, as well as various political, administrative and judicial mechanisms of oversight of public finances.
In her opening remarks, Barks-Ruggles welcomed ABA ROLI’s work with justice stakeholders in the Great Lakes region and highlighted the countries’ common interests, wealth and socio-economic potential. She emphasized the need to continue to support all initiatives that involve the judiciary in the defense of social and economic rights and in transparent public finance management. Kahilangabo also urged participants to build on lessons learned to develop and propose necessary government reforms in their home countries.
Workshop participants described their respective countries’ systems of public finance management, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each system. They discussed available anti-corruption mechanisms and key challenges that their judiciaries face in holding those who mismanage public assets accountable. Additionally, they identified priorities for improving public finance management, including updating laws and regulations, building the capacity of public finance audit institutions and increasing understanding within the justice sector of accounting and audit concepts. Participants also called for additional regional workshops to pave the way for continued experience-sharing and recommended the establishment of a regional network that promotes a culture of control and accountability.
In her closing remarks, Kayitesi said that corruption erodes the obligation of public accountability and democratic values and undermines the rule of law. She added that lawyers—as actors of justice, democracy and development—should promote the rule of law.
To learn about our work in the Central Africa region, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at [email protected].