Ombudsman lists convicts charged with corruption

Saturday May 20 2017

Rwanda's Auditor-General Obadiah Biraro. PHOTO | FILE

Rwanda's Auditor-General Obadiah Biraro. PHOTO | FILE 

By Robert Mbaraga

The office of the ombudsman has published a list of persons convicted of corruption and related offences for the past two years in a bid to deter potential offenders.

The list includes people who gave a bribe of as small as Rwf1,000 or Rwf2,000 and were sent to jail for one or two years.

“This underline the zero tolerance philosophy towards corruption that our country has adopted, and people should understand that corruption, however small hinders growth and development and will not be tolerated,” said Clement Musangabatware, the deputy Ombudsman in charge of Preventing and Fighting Corruption and Related Offences.

According to the Ombudsman’s office, publishing such a list informs government agencies who to deal with and Transparency International, the Rwandan chapter, agreed that publishing such a list sends a strong message.

“If one sees in the newspaper that somebody who gave or received one thousand in bribe is sentenced to two years in prison, they will think twice before doing the same,” said Apollinaire Mupiganyi, the executive director of Transparency International Rwanda.

On the list, the lowest amount received or given as a bribe is Rwf1,000 one while the highest amount is Rwf1 million.

“However, the lists published by the Ombudsman office contain people who either have received or given a small amount as a bribe, while we know that some people have been convicted of embezzlement and other offences that ought to be considered as related to corruption. However, the law does not allow the office of the Ombudsman to publish their names” said Mr Mupiganyi.

He added that the Rwandan penal code contains a restricted definition of corruption and related offences and does not cover embezzlement and other offences involving large amounts of money.

“We have been urging the Ombudsman to lobby for changes in the law, to allow them to publish the names of ‘big fish’ because the public needs to know who has been held accountable,” said Mr Mupiganyi.

The published list has 141 people out of which 133 are men and eight are women. It specifies those who gave and those who received a bribe.

There is a judge on the list who was sentenced to five and a half years in prison and a fine of Rwf205,000 for soliciting a bribe of Rwf200,500. A police officer on the list was convicted of soliciting a bribe of Rwf19,500 and sentenced to six years in prison.

The penal code provides harsher punishments for judicial officers, prosecutors and police officers who receive or accept a bribe.