The Judicial Anti-Corruption Week 2024 kicked off yesterday with a commitment by officials in the justice sector to fight corruption starting from within the system.
Colonel(Rtd)Jeannot Kibezi Ruhunga the Secretary General Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) showed that war against corruption within the justice system has been on and in the last three years about 75 officials have been nabbed and prosecuted for alleged corruption crimes.
These include; 2 judges, 5 prosecutors, 5 court bailiffs, 3 court assistants (all investigated); in terms of discipline, 16 prosecutors were recorded and a total of 76 fired.
“We are decided to start within the justice system as an effort to fight corruption and making it possible to uproot corruption,” Ruhunga said during a press briefing on February 8, 2024.
Ruhunga stated that the national resolve and measures to fight corruption has been tightened to the extent that the one who gives and takes a bribe have to undergo a painful process to attain the objective.
The 2023 Rwanda Bribery Index (RBI) report indicates that the private sector-construction services, Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) and Rwanda National Police are on top of the list among the top areas where bribery is still prevalent, despite ‘zero tolerance’ measures to combat corruption.
In the private sector, particularly construction units, was reportedly the most corrupt, with a bribery rate of 15.6%, RURA officials came second with 13.8%, and the National Police in third position with a bribery rate of 11.02%.
The bribery index also showed that in Rwanda National police, especially, traffic police officers and officers working in the driving permit issuance unit, there was a drop in seeking bribes- which enabled the Police to move from the first position as most corrupt institution in 2022, to the third position in 2023.
The index showed that in RIB, 16 staff received bribes worth Rwf4.5million while 6 judges received bribes worth Rwf 920,000. The report indicated that the total bribes received were worth Rwf22.8 million.
“They may give or take a bribe but it is very hard task to undertake and they know the repercussions are very bad, that is why you see the cases recorded by Transparency International (Rwanda) are increasing which is an indication of the results of our efforts,” Ruhunga said.
The Chief Justice, Dr. Faustin Ntezilyayo stated that the justice sector as guardians of the rule of the law also need to really be a guardian, and that is why they have to keep a check and balance on their manpower.
“To have a rule of law and abiding by the law, we have to start within (the justice sector). We are trusted by citizens and in order to keep that trust we don’t protect our own,” Ntezilyayo said.
Aimable Havugiyaremye, the Prosecutor General – National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA) said that while the presumption should be that no one is an angel in the justice sector, accountability will be highly upheld as agreed on by stakeholders who have established an inclusive anti-corruption committee in the system.