Burundi, Bujumbura – During a press conference this Tuesday, October 10, 2017, stated that equal access to justice must be improved through an increase in the budget for the Ministry of Justice.
One of the speakers, Prof. Michel Masabo, said that to render justice is a public service activity, which is to say, an activity that intends to satisfy a need of the general interest. He added that this activity is intended to be governed by one of the fundamental principles of public services: equality under the law.
He explained that equality under the law means each independent human being must be treated equally by the law and that all people are subject to the same laws of justice, due process. In other words, everyone must have an equal opportunity to be judged under the same jurisdictions and according to the same rules without any discrimination.
According to this professor, if one acknowledges that the problem of access to justice is caused by financial means within the Ministry of justice, then it should also be acknowledged that the budget allocated to the Ministry of Justice does reflect how less important the public service of justice would be considered. “Rarely, the budget of the Ministry of Justice reaches 2% of the total expenses of the State budget as it is illustrated in the report of the year 2016-201”, he said.
However, the Director General of the Ministry of Justice, Venant Ntakimazi, emphasized that the Government of Burundi had already made reasonable efforts to improve access to justice. He stressed that access to justice for all is one of the priorities of the 2016-2020 sectoral policy of the Ministry of Justice.
Venant concluded that notwithstanding all these efforts and legal provisions, there are still complaints about structural difficulties of access to justice.
He stated that the meager budget allocated each year to the Ministry of Justice would be one of the main causes of the low access to justice in Burundi.
He also reported that various reports of the Ministry of Justice indicate the insufficiency of the magistrates and non-magistrate’s personnel is due to budget constraints. In addition to this, he added that the lack of office equipment and the lack of fuel for judges’ field trips undermine the ministry efforts on its policy for the equal access to justice.