The justice sector has made tremendous improvements over the past one year but to reap even more, there is need for government to accelerate the establishment of the National Forensic Laboratory, Prosecutor-General Jean-Bosco Mutangana said Monday.
Speaking at the launch of the Judicial Year 2017/18, which was officiated by President Paul Kagame at Parliament, Mutangana said his office was still relying on its partnership with Germany’s Hamburg University to obtain forensic evidence from DNA tests.
“Last year alone, we sent 93 DNA samples to Germany. There is need to speed up the process to establish our own forensic laboratory to improve further on how fast we deliver justice,” he said.
The Rwf7-billion facility was initially planned to be up and running by 2015, but the deadline was missed. The long-awaited forensic facility will be an important addition in terms of providing scientific evidence while also significantly slashing down the cost of evidence-gathering, officials say.
Previous reports from Police indicate that the country spends about Rwf800,000 to ship a single sample to Germany or the UK.
In July this year, Justice minister Johnston Busingye told the parliamentary Standing Commission on National Budget and Patrimony that though a forensic laboratory would add significant value in preventing crimes, procurement issues had slowed down the whole process to ensure operationalisation.
Appearing before the Commission to discuss sectoral Budget Proposal for 2017/18 fiscal year, Busingye said that equipment for the laboratory had been bought and returned several times, slowing down the entire process.
“One of the biggest challenges we have when it comes to such processes is the tendering process. However, in this particular case, while we have bought laboratory equipment, among other forensic laboratory materials, we had to return some of it more than once because it didn’t meet the specifications,” he said.
Meanwhile, in the 2016/17 Judicial Year, the Prosecutor-General’s Office investigated a total of 3,130 cases gender and sexual related offences and 3,086 of them were finalised.
Of these, 1,772 cases were read in court, and Prosecution won 1,488 which is an equivalent of 84 percent.
Cracking down on corruption
Mutangana said the rate at which corruption cases are handled has greatly improved.
“We received 1,036 cases and worked on 1,013, which is 97.8 percent (completion rate). The conviction rate of these cases has improved rising to 84.2 per cent from 79.05 per cent,” he said.
Specifically, the Prosecutor-General’s office investigated cases of mismanagement of funds meant for welfare programmes, including Girinka, Mituelle de Sante, and VUP programmes.
“In the 2016/17 judicial year, Prosecution filed 64 cases. 43 of them involved 64 individuals, 49 were found guilty of embezzlement and were ordered to refund more than Rwf100 million and were f ined more than Rwf175 million,” he said.
Mutangana also pointed out that in the past year, his office had also started giving special attention to some sectors, based on the information it receives.
“For instance, in the medical field, in 2016/17, we investigated 15 hospitals and in these 93 personnel were investigated for embezzlement of funds, 68 were taken to court, 35 of them await verdict, while 17 were found guilty and ordered to refund more than Rwf1.1 billion,” he said.
He warned that the medical field was one of the many that would be investigated to put a stop to mismanagement and embezzlement of government funds.