4 June 2018

Rwanda: Special Chambers in Rwandan Courts to Try Corruption Cases

Specialised chambers at the country's twelve intermediate courts have been set up to try corruption and other economic crimes, a move considered as critical in strengthening the fight against corruption.

Following the law that was published in the Official Gazette on Wednesday, No. 012/2018 of 04/04/2018 determining the organisation and functioning of the Judiciary, a specialised chamber that will try corruption and economic crimes was introduced at the intermediate court level.

Since intermediate courts had only special chambers for juvenile, administrative, and labour chambers before the new law was enacted, it now means that corruption and economic crimes cases will also be treated as special and attract more attention from judges.

Under article 63 of the new law, every Intermediate Court has three specialised chambers, including the Chamber hearing children and family cases, the Chamber hearing cases on corruption and economic crimes, and the Chamber hearing labour and administrative cases.

The Judiciary spokesperson, Harrison Mutabazi, told The New Times Friday that creating a specialised chamber for corruption and economic crimes is significant for the country's fight against corruption.

That's because it will empower judges with more abilities to examine and rule faster on the crimes as they will be more focused in the area.

"There will be more attention on these cases and the rulings are likely to be of a better quality and made faster," he said, explaining that judges in the special chamber will receive quality training and given more time to focus on their area.

Apart from trying corruption cases, the new special chambers will also try economic and financial crimes such as embezzlement, money laundering, and offering clients bouncing checks, among others.

"This is one of the indicators that the government is intensifying the fight against corruption and I think it will make a difference. It's an added value," Mutabazi said as he lauded the government's decision to set up the anti-graft specialised chamber.

In the past few years, both the Office of the Ombudsman and Transparency International Rwanda (TI-Rwanda) pushed for the establishment of special desks within Rwandan courts to bring about efficiency in trying corruption suspects and help curb the vice.

The Executive Director of TI-Rwanda, Apollinaire Mupiganyi, said that setting up specialised court chambers that will try corruption and economic crimes has definitely answered the organisation's call.

"It will help a lot because corruption and economic crimes were being considered as normal crimes while there are crimes with very terrible consequences. If someone embezzles money meant for electricity and people end up without the service, it's a serious crime and needs special attention. It's a great move. It speaks volumes about the government's will to fight corruption," he said.

Mupiganyi said that some judges who were trying corruption cases would often not be informed about what corruption is but now they will be specialised in the area and will have a better understanding.

"Judges will now be more specialised. It's a great move and it shows that our country is championing good governance and the fight against corruption," he said.

The Rwandan government has adopted a 'zero-tolerance to corruption' policy, with anti-graft efforts often paying off as the country is ranked the 3rd least corrupt country in Africa, according to the corruption perceptions index report by Transparency International released last year.

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