New body to modernize legal reforms
The recently established National Law Reform Commission (NLRC) will put much emphasis on research to formulate recommendations for legal reforms, officials have told private and public legal practitioners.
When it comes to drafting legislation, there is often an urgent need identified by policymakers, lawmakers or stakeholders and this often leaves little time to do important research before drafting the projects. For the legal practitioners, such a situation may worsen the problem it was meant to solve. It is in this context that NLRC was recently established.
John Gara, the president of the commission, said its main mission is to conduct a constant follow up of the development of laws and their reforms that will be ultimately supporting the legal system.
“When you make legal reforms, you are supporting the whole judicial system,” Gara said. “When you conduct business reforms, you are also promoting a good environment for business.”
The commission has been put in place while there are already other institutions such as the ministry of justice, legal advisers in different institutions and companies, courts and even the Parliament among others dealing with legal affairs. But the officials explained that NLRC will never conflict with the existing institutions due to the fact that their mandate is to analyze the laws with the view of providing recommendations to competent authorities for improvement, modernization and reform.
“A court can say that such law is unconstitutional, but for us we cannot,” Gara explained. “What we can do is just to provide advice on how to make reforms.”
Moreover, the commission will also come up with proposals of new methods and concepts of laws that suit the changing needs of the Rwandan society, added Aimable Havugiyaremye, the vice president of NLRC. The commission will forward draft laws to the ministry of justice, which is its line ministry, for consideration before they are sent to Cabinet for approval.
The officials also mentioned that there will be short-course training programs dedicated to law drafters from different institutions so that they may get relevant skills. “That’s why we are working with the ministry of justice and others so that we can make recommendations on what kinds of training is needed,” said Havugiyaremye.
For the participants, the effort to harmonize the legal issues has been overdue given that there have been changes in different institutions that do not match the legal situation. “Sometimes we find ourselves remaining with laws that don’t match with existing institutions, especially when some bodies get combined,” said Jeanne-Françoise Nyirampabwa, the legal advisor at the ministry of agriculture, giving the examples of the Rwanda Agriculture Board and the National Agricultural Export Development Board that were formed by combining other institutions, while the laws still mention the defunct institutions.
Apart from research and harmonization, the commission also will be involved in law revision in order to facilitate easy reference for legal practitioners.