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Standard Bearers: A British firm helps rebuild Rwanda's legal system from the ground up.

Monday, August 01, 2011

  • Chris Johnson
  • The American Lawyer

 On April 6, 1994, Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana was killed when his plane was shot down near Kigali International Airport, which is just outside the nation's capital.

His assassination sparked a fierce and bloody civil war that, within 100 days, claimed the lives of 800,000 people—almost 20 percent of the country's population. The horrific genocide left Rwanda broken.

As part of its rebuilding efforts, the Rwandan government seeks to attract international investment to fund a series of regeneration projects—it aims to raise $500 million in 2011 alone.

A crucial step in fostering this economic growth is the restoration of Rwanda's decimated administrative and legal systems. Court buildings and legal offices were destroyed or abandoned during the fighting, and by the time the Rwandan Patriotic Front captured Kigali in July 1994—overthrowing the government and bringing an end to the bloodshed—just eight of the country's hundreds of lawyers and judges were left alive in Rwanda. Today, there are more than 600.

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