Cases of corruption and bribery received by Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) have increased in the past three years but officials say this good news and a sign of progress in terms of community involvement in fighting the crimes.
Figures presented by RIB indicate that corruption and bribery-related cases investigated moved from 1874 cases in 2018 to 2091 the following year and 2312 in 2020.
In an interview on July 28 after approval of a new bill that gives the ombudsman more power to come up with more areas of wealth declaration and punitive measures for officials and political parties, RIB Director General Colonel(Rtd) Jeannot Ruhunga said that this year alone, they have already handled 1129 cases of corruption and counting.
“This increase is a good sign and is directly attributed to the involvement of citizens in reporting such cases because they are assured of their security as informants,” Col Ruhunga said.
Rwanda has a corruption zero tolerance policy and its revised laws on corruption provide for the protection of informants as a way of getting community on board.
Particularly, since 2019, the city of Kigali offers incentives to whistleblowers on cases of corruption and bribery.
Though it’s not easy to totally eliminate cases of corruption in society, Col. Ruhunga said that at this rate of acquiring more information, competent insitutions will be able to make a big step in fighting the crime and RIB investigators are not afraid to investigate any case or anyone.
To make sure this goal is achieved RIB and the Office of the Ombudsman say that they have packaged themselves with well-trained and capable manpower that can conduct investigation into all cases of corruption.
Normally, cases of corruption in Rwanda can be settled out of court or in court and this comes with a possibility of recovering stolen funds, serving a jail term, and confiscating one’s property to recover damages or lost funds.
The National Prosecution Office says that because of the revised laws and heavy penalties on corruption-related cases there has been progressing in recovering funds.
Officials said, that even if someone is convicted for stealing money, they cannot walk away with it even if they serve a jail term.
“People had gotten used to embezzlement of funds and telling themselves that they can serve a jail term and come out to enjoy the stolen money, but this is no longer the case,” said Aimable Havugiyaremye, the Prosecutor General.
This has seen over Rwf5billion recovered, out of the Rwf6billion in the past five years.
Currently, Rwanda’s ranking in the corruption index is impressive. Globally, in Africa and in the East African region.
Havugiyaremye stated that though some Rwandans have learnt new tricks of illegally amasing wealth and register it in names of relatives, children and plantation workers, the teams of investigators are now able to catch up with such tricks iand many more other ways of starching personal wealth.
“With this trend, we are able to uncover these tricks when there is a conflict of interest in property ownership but this also means that the persons involved are all considered suspects and subject to prosecution, ” he said.
Madeleine Nirere, the Ombudsman said that with the new law on wealth declarations it is easy to monitor one’s wealth unlike in the past and this has given the country forward progress in managing corruprion.
She also stated that currently the cases handled are no longer involving the small fish (common citizen) only but also the big fish (top officials).