18 April 2017

Africa: Kigali to Reward Graft Whistleblowers

Photo: Adam Jones, Ph.D./Wikpedia
There is No Space for Corruption in Rwanda - Billboard in Musanze-Ruhengeri

Rwanda has promised financial rewards and security for whistleblowers whose information leads to the recovery or protection of public assets as it seeks to motivate the public to get more involved in the fight against corruption.

A draft law approved by the Cabinet last week proposes that any person who discloses information leading to the recovery of property or to the protection of the public interest in both public and private institutions will receive a financial reward while those who compromise the identity of a whistleblower face fines or even prison.

The law, which now heads to parliament for debate and enactment, does not give details of the specific rewards.

A presidential order will determine that. Once it comes into force, it will repeal the current law that was passed in 2012.

Rwandan civil society and Human Rights Watch welcomed the development.

"We welcome the government's effort to enhance legal protections for whistleblowers. The government should protect them both in law and in practice," said HRW director for central Africa Ida Sawyer.

AmendmentsThe chairperson of Transparency International Rwanda Imaculee Ingabire said that they have been advocating for amendments to the current law because they felt it did not provide adequate protection for whistleblowers against persecution and intimidation by powerful people.

In addition to financial rewards, the new law orders all institutions to designate an employee responsible for receiving anonymous information and cautions them to protect the identity of the information providers.

It also extends protection to a whistleblower's immediate family and his or her informants in the event that his identity is unmasked.In case a whistleblower is summoned by a judge, his or her identity must not be disclosed and the hearing must be conducted in-camera.

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