11 February 2013

Rwanda: 40 Corruption Cases to Be Heard This Week

Chief Justice Sam Rugege has announced that 40 corruption-related cases will be handled during this week as a part of efforts towards zero tolerance for corruption. "There are 40 corruption related cases in all courts and they all have to be heard during this week," he said.

The top judicial official made the statement yesterday at the Supreme Court in Kimihurura at the opening of the third annual anti-corruption campaign week. The chief justice noted that the campaign has been very fruitful since it was established two years ago, with 66 corruption cases heard last year.

In addition, the judiciary has been very strict with staff members involved in graft and strengthening discipline within the system. Rugege pointed out that the judiciary had expelled 7 judiciary members involved in corruption and indiscipline in 2011, last year there were only 3. Yet he noted that there are still members of the judiciary who accept bribes and others fail to denounce such cases.

"To eradicate corruption in judiciary system, there is a need for comprehensive collaboration with communities so as to denounce corruption cases and punish all involved," Rugege said, adding that some judges can hand lenient sentences to their colleagues involved in corruption; which hampers the progress.

He made clear that most cases of corrupt judges are found in primary and intermediate courts. The system has only found one case of a judge of the Supreme Court, in Musanze, involved in malpractices. In addition, Rugege said most cases involve little money like Frw 50,000 and Frw 30,000.

The chief justice also called upon the media to raise public awareness on corruption and denounce some of the cases. "That is not collaboration that I am asking for, it is your duty," Rugege told journalists.

The involvement of the press in preventing corruption is a legal right provided by the Law No 23/2003 related to the punishment of corruption and related offences,in its article 9. The law states: "Notwithstanding the legal provisions governing the Press, the Press must get involved in the prevention and the fight against any act of corruption and related offences by publicizing the acts of corruption and related offences discovered in all sector service organs.

Institutions involved in the prevention and fight against corruption must put in place mechanisms of collaborating with the press in this respect."

The president of the Supreme Court expressed his satisfaction with the progress the judicial system has made over the years; as it has been proved by international reports. Transparence international has ranked Rwanda the least corrupt country in East African Community while a recent World Economic Forum report named Rwanda as the country with the most independent judiciary in the region.

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