Rwanda imposes tough sanctions on corrupt public officials
Rwanda President, Paul Kagame getting tough on coruption
Kigali, April 23, 2018 (AltAfrika)-Corrupt Rwandan public officials risk imprisonment of seven to 10 years and fines of up to five times the value of the bribes they solicit, according to a draft Bill that President Paul Kagame’s government hopes to use to promote integrity in public service.
The draft, anti-corruption Bill is still under review by the Parliamentary Accounts Committee and will contain all articles relating to graft that were modified and transferred from the Penal Code.
Crimes detailed in the draft Bill are embezzlement and misuse of property, accepting or offering illegal benefits, soliciting or offering sexual favours, influence peddling, favouritism and nepotism.
Controversially, under the current laws, penalties for such crimes are no longer be executable if the suspect evaded justice for five years, but under the new law, there will be no expiration date for the crimes, a prospect that has energised anti-corruption watchdogs.
“Some people tended to disappear after embezzling state funds and reappeared after their cases have expired. That was a gap in the law that needed to be fixed urgently and am glad that now there is no expiration date for corruption crimes,” said Marie-Immaculée Ingabire, chairperson of Transparency International Rwanda.
“There is corruption in Rwanda, no doubt about that. You can find it at job recruitment, in justice institutions and at the work place. Those that steal a lot of funds — the so-called big fish — rarely get arrested because they have friends in important offices. This law will help to stop this.”
Individuals who solicit for sexual favours will also be convicted for up to seven years — an increase of two years from the current law — and pay a fine of up to Rwf2 million ($2,310).
All corruption-related crimes have seen a two year increase in prison sentences under the draft bill, a strong commitment by government to enforce a culture of “zero tolerance for corruption”, Judith Uwizeye, the Minister in the Office of the President told MPs last week.
“People tended to get away with light sentences when it came to corruption crimes, this will change under the new law,” spokesperson of the Office of the Ombudsman, Jean-Pierre Nkuruzinza, said.
Transparency Rwanda has testimonies from people whose property was destroyed by government authorities after they refused to pay bribes.
Traffic and judicial police, the private sector, and Rwanda Revenue Authority are some of the most corrupt institutions where bribery is high, Transparency reported.
Least corrupt nations
Rwanda retains a strong position among the least corrupt nations on the continent, only bettered by Mauritius and Botswana. Rwanda is followed by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, while Burundi is the most corrupt, according to Transparency International.
In Kenya, a person who commits or attempts to commit corruption or an economic crime is to be imprisoned for up to 10 years and fined up to Ksh1 million ($10,000), according to the Anti-corruption and Economic Crimes Act.
In Uganda, the 2009 anti-corruption Act convicts those who cause financial loss in both public and private sectors to imprisonment of up to 14 years, while those who lead to loss of public property are imprisoned for up to ten years.
A Tanzanian public official who fraudulently misappropriates public property is to be imprisoned for up to seven years and fined Tsh10 million ($4,300).
Burundi, which has consistently ranked among the most corrupt countries by Transparency, passed its anti-graft law in 2006 under which officials convicted of corruption liable to ten years in jail and a fine of up to one million Burundian francs ($570).