Rwanda: Curbing Corruption Requires Joint Efforts - Chief Justice

11 February 2020

Chief Justice Faustin Ntezilyayo has noted that curbing corruption requires not pointing fingers between institutions but working together to uproot the vice.

He said this on Monday 10, February, in a press conference that marked the launch of the 10th anti-corruption week in the judiciary, and will go through Thursday this week.

Among key activities to be carried out during the week include corruption awareness campaigns and more than 100 corruption cases that are scheduled to be heard.

The presser was attended by key players in the justice sector including courts, National Public Prosecution Authority, Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), Rwanda Correction Service (RCS) and the Ombudsman.

At the occasion, Ntezilyayo said: "Corruption is like a huge beast that can't be hunted by a single person. Eradicating it requires joint effort from all stakeholders."

He added that: "We should fight it collectively, not pointing fingers at the prosecution or the investigators and so on. We request everyone to play their role and be reminded that everyone who will be caught in these malpractices shall be held accountable."

The 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) report by Transparency International revealed that Rwanda scored 53 points on a scale of 100 points in fighting corruption, a drop of three points from the 2018 index.

However, the score was above the average of 43 points and in addition to this, Rwanda maintained the fourth position in Africa and the first in the region.

What has been done so far?

The Prosecutor General Aimable Havugiyaremye noted that the efforts being put in fighting corruption are in line with ensuring Rwanda's zero tolerance to this crime.

"A lot of things have been done in this regard, including making corruption imprescriptible and freezing property of those being alleged of corruption while the investigation is ongoing."

Through the new law, unlike previously, the definition of corruption is now broad and includes embezzlement in order to fix legal loopholes in the anti-corruption effort, he said.

Any person convicted of embezzlement, be it in public or the private sector, in a religious-based organisation or any other organisation, is liable to imprisonment for a term not less than seven years and a fine of three to five times the value of the embezzled property.

The Chief Justice also mentioned that: "Since the year 2005 up to 2019, a total of 47 judges and registrars have been convicted of corruption by the inspectorate of courts."

A gap to be filled

Marie-Immaculée Ingabire, Chairperson of Transparency International Rwanda recently told The New Times that “most people involved in corruption are powerful politicians, business people or powerful multinational/national companies that are rarely reported.”

Commenting on this, the Prosecutor General said that it is most of the time caused by insufficient evidence.

He said: "We are aware of this and our laws are clear that no one is above them. What we lack is prosecutable evidence because these people are also coming up with different tactics."

On this, Ingabire said that fighting corruption goes hand-in-hand with the battle of changing the mindsets, therefore, "the population should understand that corruption is an enemy of the nation, undermines development and increases injustice."

According to the Ombudsman's office, persons willing to report on corruption are so far less than 20 percent, which also shows the need to provide true information by citizens.

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