Rwandan courts charge over 100 over corruption related cases in 2016

APA-Kigali (Rwanda)

Courts in Rwanda tried and convicted a total of 121 individuals found guilty of corruption and bribery in 2016, according to the Ombudsman office.

The new figure shows a significant drop by almost half compared to the previous year.

The Ombudsman’s office last week published their names as required by law. Many on the list are public servants, farmers and motorists.

The offenders’ names, parents’ names, ages and residences have been made public on both the Ombudsman’s and Ministry of Labour websites.

The biggest case exposed involved a government employee, who was found guilty for offering a bribe worth $54,000– for which he was sentenced to three years of imprisonment and a heavy fine of $700,000.

Many others, particularly farmers, security guards and motorcyclists were convicted for at least a year in prison for offering or receiving bribes as small as $ 2.3

The heaviest punishment, however, was reserved for a commercial motorcyclist in Kigali, who received a jail term of five years for offering a bribe worth only $1.2

The Ombudsman’s office maintains that publishing names of the convicts has worked as a deterrent to those who may try to swindle government funds or offer bribes for public services.

“There are signs showing that publishing names of those convicted of corruption is paying off by deterring people away from the vice. Many people who encounter bribe now tend to report the incidence because they understand the repercussions of accepting it,” Jean Pierre Nkurunziza, spokesperson of the Office of the Ombudsman told Rwanda Today.

According to Transparency International, more than 1.5 million Rwandans encountered bribes in 2016 — while local government agencies and police received almost two thirds of the total Rwf35.5 billion of bribes paid out throughout the year.

Whereas the number of corrupt convicts fell dramatically, instances of bribery increased in 2016, partly due to fewer people having the bravery to report incidences of bribe and corruption.

Transparency International called on the government to ensure more protection for whistleblowers, which is a challenge that the Ombudsman’s office is ready to focus on this year.

“In order to curb corruption, even at high level public service, we now have the Whistleblowers Act that helps protect anyone who can give us information, while mechanisms like phone tapping can now also be employed within the limits of the law if necessary,” Mr Nkurunziza said.


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