Rwanda: Lawmakers Call for More Awareness of Law Protecting Graft Whistleblowers

A legal provision that protects a person who gives corruption to get a service for which they have right and reports the case to justice organs prior to criminal investigation, is not well understood among the general public.

Senator François Habiyakare, the Chairperson of the African Parliamentarians' Network against Corruption, Rwanda Chapter (APNAC Rwanda), made the disclosure on Friday, July 24, 2020 during a General Assembly that brought together the parliamentary body's members at the Rwanda Parliament.

The General Assembly adopted APNAC Rwanda's 2019-2020 activity report and its 2020-2021 action plan.

Article 19 of the law on fighting against corruption which was enacted in 2018 states in part that there is no criminal liability for a person who gives or receives an illegal benefit and informs the justice organs before the commencement of criminal investigation by providing information and evidence.

Senator Habiyakare said that the main challenge in rooting out corruption is that very few people report cases related to it.

According to the Office of the Ombudsman, only about 20 per cent of Rwandans who are asked corruption actually report it.

"Many people do not know that when they give corruption in order to get a service they are entitled to because they had no other option left and immediately report the case, they are exempted from punishment," he said.

"We will build their awareness about such a provision," he pointed out.

Among the activities that APNAC Rwanda plans to carry out in the current fiscal year, there is inquiry into the issue of worst performing districts in the fight against corruption which was exposed by the Ombudsman's 2019 report.

Assessment visits by these MPs against corruption to districts which performed poorly in activities intended to fight corruption are expected from February 25 to February 27, 2021.

The visits are meant to understand the underlying problems, and to look for what can be done to address them in order to curb corruption. The MPs against corruption will talk to both the residents and the leaders of the districts in question.

Radio talks are also planned to be delivered in the districts which are cited in the report.

Habiyakare said that some citizens are not provided with information about procedures to request and get services which might make them a prey of people who are greedy for corruption.

"There is a need to engage with people and provide them with information intended to stem corruption. We want to ascertain why they are not doing well in actions aimed at curbing corruption," he said.

"We intend to stem corruption. Our purpose is to identify the underlying reasons, and solve the problem. Through interaction with the residents, we will find out the effects of corruption in the districts in question," he observed.

MP Beline Uwineza said that there should be an evaluation of how a district's performance in combating corruption relates to performance in other initiatives such as fighting malnutrition in order to understand the root causes of the problem and the proposed remedy.

"We should focus on citizens because they are a core element in tackling and reporting corruption," she said.

The network of anti-corruption MPs also said that, in partnership with Transparency International Rwanda, it will also visit secondary schools in line with preventing and combating corruption, from March 8 to 10, 2021

APNAC Rwanda was established on January 10, 2005, to support the government in preventing and fighting against corruption and related offenses, within the framework of parliamentary diplomacy.

entirenganya@newtimesrwanda.com

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