The Ombudsman’s Office has published the names of people who were convicted of corruption, largely dominated by those who took or offered bribes involving little sums of money.
It is part of the strategies to check corruption in the country.
The list, which was published in mainstream media, has yet again triggered questions on why the list does not contain cases involving large sums of money.
The list is composed of 37 people, 36 of whom are male—and contains the convict’s names, parents’ names, age, gender and the exact location of his or her residence.
Among the convicts, 24 are accused of giving or asking for a bribe that is between Rfw1, 500 and Rfw10, 000.
The list is dominated by motorcyclists and drivers, leaving out the ‘big fish’. The lowest sentence for the convicts is one year and the highest 7 years.
“Normally these names are referred to us by the Supreme Court and our duty is to publish them. However, though we are supposed to do so quarterly, there have been budgetary constraints before, rendering the whole exercise impossible but, thankfully, this seems to have been rectified,” the Advisor and Spokesperson of the Ombudsman, Jean Pierre Nkurunziza, said.
Go after ‘Big fish’
The Spokesperson for the Rwanda Civil Society Platform, Jean Léonard Sekanyange, told The Saturday Times that even though this is a step in the right direction, there was need to go after the corrupt ‘big fish’ since their crimes involve a lot of money.
“What we are seeing are the ‘small’ people who took bribes ranging between Rwf5,000 and Rwf10,000. We are interested in the ones whose crimes involve bigger sums that have the ability to affect the country’s economy,” he said.
Sekanyage inquired about the fate of the people implicated by the Auditor General in his annual report and probed by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
“While we know that this can be a complicated crime to investigate, we also have some concerns when it comes to some people we hear about in reports and others who resign from their jobs when they are linked to corruption. Who investigates them?” he wondered.
He called on the Ombudsman to set up a system that digs deep into acts of officials to explain the property they own if it does not tally with their income, adding that there were also corruption intermediaries that needed investigating.
Member of Parliament Jean Damascene Murara agrees, saying that the Ombudsman needs to do better in pursuing corrupt big names.
“We only hear of farmers, drivers, motorcycle taxi operators and the ‘biggest person’ on the list we have heard of is a Mayor. Where are the big names?” he wondered.
Addressing reporters recently, the Ombudsman, Anastase Murekezi, appealed to courts to exercise restraint while publishing the names of people accused of corruption.
“Of course there is the window of appeal but when it comes to corruption, I think that these appeal cases should be scrutinised more because the suspects are capable of fleeing,” he said.
The names published are for the second quarter of 2016/2017 and the biggest chunk of the crimes was committed in Kigali City.