19 September 2017

Rwanda: Whistleblowers Stepping Forward, Says Mutangana

Although convincing Rwandans to play the role of whistleblowers is still challenging, there has been an improvement in the numbers of those stepping forward, the Prosecutor General Jean-Bosco Mutangana has said.

Speaking to The New Times about the pursuit of corrupt officials, Mutangana said that there have been some 'good law abiding citizens' who have provided some useful tips about corruption-related crimes, something that he said is an achievement.

"We have had some whistleblowers, some who have come to me directly and pointed out places and individuals that we need to look into. It is a very important achievement that we have realised in the recent past," he said.

He said that the numbers are still low due to fear, adding that most refuse to record statements.

"It is still challenging because the whistleblowers will give you a tip, but they do not want to appear in court or even record a statement. But I still think that it's a positive sign that, at least, they have started approaching me face-to-face," he said.

Mutangana said that the law gives him the mandate to protect whistleblowers.

"It is my duty as the Prosecutor-General to make sure that they are protected, to make sure that even when it comes down to them coming to court, they are given pseudonym and they do so in camera," he said.

He called on locals to play their role toward making sure that money meant for developmental activities is not swindled by people holding higher offices.

In June, Parliament passed a Bill that seeks to amend the law on protection and rewarding of whistleblowers.

Cash incentives?

However, there were differing views about whether a whistleblower should be rewarded or considered an individual doing their civic duty.

The Minister of State for Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Evode Uwizeyemina, told lawmakers that the law, which dates back to 2012 had many gaps and over 50 articles had to be changed.

For Uwizeyimana, the old law wasn't responding to the current trends of terror threats, insecurity, and corruption.

MP John Ruku-Rwabyoma, who was one of those who believed that a cash incentive would help the Government to reap more from whistleblowers, said in a telephone interview that the method can work alongside encouraging people to provide information as part of their civic duty.

"We will continue to promote patriotism and citizens need to remember that they all have a role to play. They must take action when they see the law being broken. However, we must all agree that there are always exceptions. Incentives are a common practice in other countries and let no one confuse this with a bribe or payment," he said.

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