Minister Busingye warns court bailiffs against graft

156 bailiffs and notaries were sworn in at the Ministry of Justice headquarters on May 7, 2019. Kelly Rwamapera.

Justice Minister and Attorney General, Johnston Busingye, has warned court bailiffs against seeking bribes when executing judgements.

He was addressing 156 professional and non-professional bailiffs and notaries who were sworn in on Tuesday at the ministry in Kigali.

Court bailiffs are responsible for executing judgements pronounced by courts where professional bailiffs take five per cent of the sum of execution or Rwf300,000 when the execution is not in monetary terms.

Non-professional including executive secretaries at cells, sectors and districts are obliged to execute judgements of residents in their jurisdiction without charging them any money.

Busingye stressed that bailiffs who solicit bribe while executing judgements risk punishments that include expulsion from the profession.

“We have had court bailiffs who sought to please some individuals in the process of executing judgments and have been punished,” Busingye warned.

Since 2013 when the law on professional bailiffs was gazetted, 27 professional bailiffs have been expelled while others were jailed or suspended for bribery.

Vedaste Habimana, the president at Rwanda Professional Bailiffs Association, said that in the initial stages of the association, there were legal flaws by professional bailiffs but these have since been minimised thanks to experience and law enforcement within the association.

“Over 99 per cent of our members have not had any run-in with the law in the last six years,” Habimana said.

He pointed out that in the process of auctioning, some bailiffs could have an “understanding with a buyer” and illegally auction the property.

“We put an end to that vice years ago with a monitoring team in the field watching the legality of these auctions,” he noted.

A court bailiff carries out the auction if the bidders buy property at a price not below 75 per cent of the total value of the property.

However, after three attempts, bidders can go below 75 per cent of the value of the property.

Valide Uwintije, one of the 28 who were sworn in as professional bailiffs, told reporters that she had always heard of bribery among bailiffs.