Whistleblowing law adds to anti-graft measures

Friday December 14 2012

By EMMANUEL RUTAYISIRE Special Correspondent

When Chief Ombudsman Aloysia Cyanzaire appeared in parliament last month to present her 2010/11 report, she said grand corruption the world over was hard to fight because the parties involved stand to gain from it.

At the time, Ms Cyanzaire’s report was criticised by lawmakers, who termed it as a list targeting “small fish” because of its failure to mention top government officials.

“She is talking from experience. She has been a senior figure in the judiciary,” an MP told Rwanda Today.

Ms Cyanzaire, a retired Supreme Court judge, told the House that her office was devising new approaches in the fight against graft in public offices.

Among these is the whistleblowers’ protection law that seeks to encourage members of the public to report cases of corruption as patriotic duty.

Gazetted early this month, it adds to the several anti-corruption laws enacted in Rwanda.

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Juvenal Nkusi, the chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts which scrutinises the annual Auditor-General’s reports, cited fighting corruption as a patriotic duty that must be embraced by all.

“Doing it [whistleblowing] for profit is not good,” the MP told Rwanda Today in an interview.

Mr Nkusi added that the law is intended to protect persons who would like to come out to report corruption but fear retribution.

The law stipulates that, for protection purposes, the file of information shall bear a code corresponding to the one of the whistleblower registered in the list of whistleblowers. Such a list is archived in a secret place and can be retrieved by the officer in charge of receiving information.

“Whistleblowers can provide crucial information in a manner that preserves discretion. Though not the same, it is similar to witness protection,” said Jean Pierre Nkurunziza, advisor to the Chief Ombudsman, in an interview with Rwanda Today.

The new law, however, makes it a punishable offence for a person to give false information to police.

“Whistleblowing works well in corporations to uncover what we call creative accounting,” said Oscar Bahizi of the Legal Development Institute.