The Minister of Justice, Johnston Busingye, has challenged court bailiffs to work together and stop a criminal ring that is suspected to have infiltrated their processes.
The bailiffs are responsible for executing judgements pronounced by courts.
According to the law, professional bailiffs take a five per cent cut of the sum of execution or Rwf300, 000 when the execution is not in monetary terms.
Non-professional bailiffs, including executive secretaries at cell, sector and district levels are obliged to execute judgements of residents in their jurisdiction without charging them any money.
Addressing a consultative meeting bringing together all professional bailiffs from all over the country on Wednesday February 26, Busingye said that while the mission to stop the criminal ring who are commonly known ‘Brokers’ will require all the stakeholders’ efforts, the responsibility lays primarily with the bailiffs themselves.
“This ring will not be fought by investigative officers, prosecutors or volunteers…it is your responsibility to report the suspects and most importantly to work diligently so that you do not give them an opportunity, or leave a void that can make them continue operating,” he said.
Busingye pointed out that there is need to change public perception which has implicated some of the bailiffs in the vice.
“The public perception out here is that some of you are working with these people. We need to discuss if this is the truth and how we can fix it. Unless we do that, this vice will destroy anything that this professional body has worked for,”
Association outlines challenges
The President of the Professional Bailiffs Association, Antoine Sebera Nyunga, acknowledged that such challenges were giving a bad name to the profession.
He pointed out other issues including bailiffs’ failure to pass on the money that has been collected in the process to complete court judgement with some even getting fired before the beneficiaries can be compensated.
He decried the negative reception that bailiffs receive during their day to day execution of their duties.
“We haven’t heard anywhere, even where government has lost, where court bailiffs are welcomed warmly. In fact, the common experience is that those who have lost cases refuses receipt of the letters informing them of the next steps or close their gates to bailiffs, often requiring the intervention of local authorities,” he said.
Since the law on professional bailiffs was gazetted in 2013, 27 professional bailiffs have been expelled while others were jailed or suspended for bribery.
As of 2018, there were more than 400 professional court bailiffs in Rwanda.
At the time, there were 2627 unprofessional bailiffs including the executive secretaries of 30 districts, 416 bailiffs at the sector level, and 2147 at the cell level while 3 are in the Justice Ministry and one at the Ombudsman’s office.Follow https://twitter.com/Africannash