By Eugene Kwibuka
Courts around the country will carry out mass trials of corruption related cases as part of an ongoing anti-corruption drive in the judiciary which was launched yesterday.
This was announced on Monday by the Chief Justice, Prof. Sam Rugege, who said that 117 cases of corruption related cases will be tried this week.
Under the theme “corruption is bad for the country’s development, let’s all condemn it,” the Chief Justice launched the anti-corruption ‘week’ in the judiciary from his office in Kigali in the presence of the Prosecutor General Jean Bosco Mutangana and other officials.
“All Rwandans and public servants should stand up against corruption and focus more on economic activities. Money spent on corruption could be spent on development projects such as roads, schools, hospitals, and any other public interest works,” Rugege said as he launched the anti-graft campaign.
Corruption related cases which will be tried this week mostly include petty bribes such as drivers who tried to bribe police officers and local officials who asked for benefits where there weren’t due to render services.
But Mutangana said that the cases also include some that involve a lot of money, such as corruption among people with responsibilities who asked for unjustified benefits, officials who paid contractors before they could finish their work, as well as other financial crimes.
“It’s more than money related cases but also some of the cases involve the management of big contracts whereby some people poorly handled them,” the prosecutor general said.
During the anti-corruption week, different activities have been organised to fight the vice, such as sensitisation campaigns in courts across the country, radio and television talk shows, as well as trying pending corruption cases.
Rugege said that fighting corruption is a sign of patriotism among citizens and urged everyone to report corruption wherever it is found whether it involves the judges, prosecutors, lawyers, or any other members of society.
“Fighting corruption is a sign of patriotism. If we love our country, we all have to fight corruption,” he said.
The one-week anti-corruption campaign that targets the judiciary is an annual campaign through which judges, lawyers, prosecutors, police officers, and other public servants working in the judicial sector dedicate their efforts towards fighting the vice through deeper sensitisation.
Last year’s campaign was conducted under the theme of ‘Rights are not bought’ and the drive saw 27 rulings on corruption cases delivered.
Rugege said that though efforts against corruption within the judiciary have to be sustained, the vice has been decreasing among judges and court clerks, with only one court agent dismissed last year over corruption.
From 2005 up until last year, 35 court staffers (judges and court registrars) had been dismissed due to corruption.
“The number of those who get fired due to corruption is decreasing and that’s a good thing,” Rugege told journalists at the launch of the anti-graft week yesterday.
Rwanda remains the 3rd least corrupt country in Africa, according to the corruption perceptions index report by Transparency International released last year.
But a study by the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) indicates that more efforts are still needed to fight corruption and injustice.
The 2017 Citizen Report Card (CRC) indicated that 11.8 per cent of respondents said that they faced injustice in the last 12 months while 3.9 per cent of respondents had encountered corruption.
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