Rwandan President Kagame urges courts to speed up graft cases

Rwandan president promises to improve judges’ welfare.

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame. He said the anti-graft fight should not only target low-ranking officers but also senior government workers. PHOTO | PRESIDENCY 

IN SUMMARY

  • He said the anti-graft fight should not only target low-ranking officers but also senior government workers.
  • Rwanda is ranked as the least corrupt country in the East African region and its zero-tolerance policy has attracted praise in the region and globally.
  • Responding to the call to action, Chief Justice Sam Rugege said already six court officials had been dismissed over corruption related offences.

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President Paul Kagame has called on Rwanda’s judiciary to give ‘special focus’ on corruption cases and other financial crimes involving high-ranking officials.

He said the anti-graft fight should not only target low-ranking officers but also senior government workers.

“We still have people in the judiciary who pursue their own gains, and those who seek services from our courts know this,” President Kagame said while addressing judicial officers at a ceremony to mark new financial year 2017-2018 in Kigali.

READ: Top officials arrested as Rwanda moves to stop misuse of funds

Rwanda is ranked as the least corrupt country in the East African region and its zero-tolerance policy has attracted praise in the region and globally.

However, anti-corruption watchdogs decry that the ‘big fish’ often get away with graft.

The President told the judicial officers to “begin by holding leaders accountable, not just citizens”.

“If it was me, I would start with corrupt leaders and others who occupy certain positions in the Rwandan society, because justice cannot only concern small citizens while those in higher positions are shielded,” President Kagame said.

Responding to the call to action, Chief Justice Sam Rugege said already six court officials had been dismissed over corruption related offences.

“Fighting corruption is a battle we cannot accept to lose, even if it takes long to be victorious” Prof Rugege said.  

The judges also took the opportunity to ask for better compensation, to which the President responded he would “increase the legitimate support” if they dealt with corruption.

“I think this is a fair deal,” he added.

ALSO READ: Kagame warns his new Cabinet against complacency

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