Four arrested in Gatsibo over wetland encroachment

Police in Gastibo District have arrested four people in connection with illegally conducting farming activities on gazetted wetlands.

The Eastern Region Police Spokesperson, Inspector of Police Jean Bosco Dusabe, identified the suspects as Augustin Siborurema, Anastase Muganga, David Rwasibo and Sylvere Mutabaruka.

They are currently held at Kabarore police station pending further investigations.

“In May, each of the four suspects led a group of people to cultivate in Rwangingo wetland. The local authorities informed them that they were not allowed to conduct any activity in a gazetted wetland,” IP Dusabe said

“Despite several warnings from the police and local leaders, they proceeded with their faming activities. On August 8, we conducted an operation that led to the arrest of the suspects red-handed,” he added.

By the time of their arrest, they had already plowed over three hectares of Rwangingo wetland.

The wetland spans from Ngarama sector to Kabarore sector and extends to Nyagatare District.

“Conserving wetlands is part of protecting the environment. Encroaching on it is both endangering the ecosystem and unlawful, which can’t be tolerated,” Dusabe warned.

The four suspects risk a jail sentence of up to two years and a fine of up to Rwf3 million as stipulated by article 414 of the Penal Code.

As part of enforcing the organic law on environment, Rwanda National Police established an Environmental Protection Unit (EPU) that operates under the Criminal Investigation Department. The unit is mandated to protect the environment in all aspects, including air space, forestry and biodiversity, as well ensure the enforcement of different legal instruments.

The police carry out joint activities with Ministry of Natural Resources and Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA) that are in line with environmental protection, including community awareness on conserving the environment.