Rwanda creates independent body to handle police issues

Rwandan police officers who commit crimes will now be investigated by an independent body under the Ministry of Justice.

Members of the Rwanda National Police. Cases involving the RNP will be investigated now by a special body, the Rwanda Investigative Bureau. PHOTO | FILE 

BY IVAN R. MUGISHA

IN SUMMARY

  • The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) has been handling cases involving rogue officers since the establishment of Rwanda National Police in 2000, but it will now be a department within the newly established Rwanda Investigative Bureau (RIB).
  • The move was welcomed by members of Rwanda’s lawyers.
  • A study conducted by the Institute of Legal Practice and Development in 2013 showed that under the CID, Rwanda judicial police officers do not easily communicate with prosecutors, and prefer to communicate with their superiors  — a situation that compromises investigations against police officers.

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Rwandan police officers who commit crimes will now be investigated by an independent body under the Ministry of Justice.

The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) has been handling such cases since the establishment of Rwanda National Police in 2000, but it will now be a department within the newly established Rwanda Investigative Bureau (RIB).

A recent Cabinet meeting approved the institutional re-arrangement of the RNP to make it more efficient and effective.

Now, the RIB will bring together intelligence, criminal investigation and judicial police.

Musa Fazil Harerimana, Minister of internal security, said that RIB will primarily be charged with general crime intelligence, as well as help to relieve the police of overlapping duties that seemed to bring up conflict of interest, such as the investigation and gathering of evidence on police officers suspected of crime.

The move was welcomed by members of Rwanda’s lawyers.

“People always find it difficult to report to police when the crime they are reporting involves a police officer. This body will try to solve this dilemma because now people will be reporting to a bureau that is not directly under police,” said Emmanuel Bizimana, a member of the Rwanda Bar Association.

“The bureau will also have its personnel and budget to conduct its work with independence in conducting crime intelligence. This was particularly difficult because police officers assigned to the CID under police would sometimes have other police duties on the side that divided their attention.”

A study conducted by the Institute of Legal Practice and Development in 2013 showed that under the CID, Rwanda judicial police officers do not easily communicate with prosecutors, and prefer to communicate with their superiors  — a situation that compromises investigations against police officers.

Moise Nkundabaarashi, partner at Trust Law Chambers, said that under the CID, pre-trial detention had become a principle even for minor offences, a situation that is likely to change under the new bureau.

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