BY GODFREY NTAGUNGIRA
To consolidate the country’s security, the government of Rwanda began to define Rwanda’s future. By 2020 Rwanda aspires to be a peaceful, politically stable, dynamic, diversified, integrated and competitive middle-income economy.
The roles of the ministry of internal security are to ensure that Rwanda honors both local and its regional agreements with strong commitment to promote democracy and human rights internally.
Rwanda is a safe country in a turbulent neighborhood that must constantly weigh its need for internal and external security.
The mission for the Ministry of Internal affairs is to guarantee security for all persons and their property throughout the country for every body’s benefit without any discrimination.
In the framework of EDPRS Rwanda is strengthening the Rule of Law to promote good governance through.
- Effectiveness of the rule of law with regulatory quality or ability of government to formulate and implement sound policies and regulations.
- Confidence of population that regulations will be adhered to by all.
- Legal and judicial framework for the control of corruption in public and private sector.
- Government’s effectiveness in service delivery attained through government’s credibility and commitment to provide better service.
- Level of access, policy formulation, implementation and quality of public services in Justice, Reconciliation, Law and Order.
Rwanda National Police (RNP)
The current National Police was created by the law n°09/2000 of 16/06/2000 which structured the general organization and competence of the National Police published in the official Gazette, special edition of the 29/06/2000.
The Rwanda National police was created with a mission to deliver high quality services, accountability and transparency while safeguarding the rule of law to provide safe and crime free environment for all.
Reports from the Justice Ministry indicates that the Rwanda National Police (RNP) has earned the widespread respect of the Rwandan community, with over 85% questioned expressing a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the services rendered by the force. However according to international norms the force is still small, with a police to population ratio of about 1:1,600.
In line with EDPRS and Vision 2020 the government of Rwanda is looking forward to have competent and professional police and prison officers who largely respect human rights in line with international conventions.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID)
The department is responsible for investigations into serious crimes. There is a Gender Desk within the CID, which focuses principally on domestic violence and child abuse.
The bulk of criminal investigations are carried out by judicial police officers in the RNP.
Serious expansion of the police force would significantly improve community outreach and protection programs while enhancing the CID’s investigative resources and capacity.
General professionalism and training is also required, as are more specialized capacity trainings in areas such as complex criminal investigations, sexual violence, personnel management and Police accountability.
The CID is also focused on being proficient in criminal investigative training including complex crimes, child abuse, gender and domestic violence.
Accountability is central to a well functioning judicial system and public faith in such a system. Rwanda National Police enjoys very high ratings when it comes to what one call corruption perception index.
Incidences of say bribe taking is quite low among the force something that makes it to stand out from the rest within the continent of Africa where corruption is endemic.
Thus the force in Rwanda is, generally, respected by the population for its discipline and high levels of accountability to the community within which it serves.
Gender diversity is a key element to an effective police body. It shows a government commitment to serve an entire population, increases public confidence in the system, and allows for an all-inclusive response to gender-based crimes, particularly in Rwanda where rape was a form of genocide.
While Rwanda has strong gender diversity in other government sectors, women make up only 10% of the police force. This is due in part to unfavorable responses from women to recruitment drives. There is also a gender desk in the CID.
In this regard it is expected that recruitment campaigns must address issues why gender diversity is critical and direct such messages at both the individual female recruits and their family and community more broadly.
National Prison Services (NPS)
Until the creation of Ministry of Internal security in 1999, the Directorate of Prisons was under the Ministry of Justice. This directorate has been transferred to Ministry of Internal Security, with the hope of ensuring harmony and efficiency within the ambit of maintaining law and order in the public domain.
After the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis, prison populations exploded while the judicial system was left in ruins with very few legal personnel to service what was a grave legal situation which had just unfolded.
Despite constrains such as lack of personnel, currently Rwanda’s corrective system and conditions are improving by slowly and surely inching towards reaching the recommended international benchmarks.
Mpanga prison is a modern facility near Nyanza (about two hours drive from Kigali) built while observing international standards and with a capacity to hold 7,500 inmates. Construction is complete except for a forty cell wing designated for possible ICTR transferees or foreign extradition suspects to serve their sentences.
The facilities are now fully operational. Rwanda also has building plans and land for an additional prison building near Kigali.
Upon its completion Mpanga prison is capable of providing adequate detention facilities for all convicts.
The Rwandan Central Prison System
There are intentions to build a new, larger prison outside Kigali to replace the 1930 built facility. Related construction plans exist and appropriate lands have been procured, though construction costs remain unfunded. If done in conjunction with further prison reforms, this may offer a longer-term solution.
The government has tried to improve the welfare of prison warders by increasing their salaries which is coupled by provision of other benefits.
The Prisons sector has put positive efforts in environmental protection whereby as of today 80% of all prisons in the country use bio-gas which has played a central role in reducing government budget on power or fuel.
The ministry has plans to modernize all prisons in the country in order to attain international standards and as at today a number of studies are under way.
Boosting community policing initiatives
Community policing is a collaborative approach to maintaining law and order which involves establishing partnerships with the local community by enabling the police to act responsively to community needs.
The RNP is progressively institutionalizing this approach to policing, including setting up Community Policing Committees, Anti Crime Clubs and community based crime prevention measures.
Under a new initiative crime prevention panels have been introduced where local residents are trained in crime deterrence and accept responsibility for law and order in their locality. Panel members typically see themselves as existing to help the police to eliminate crime.
Wherever they have emerged as being successful, the panels are acknowledged as a valuable compliment to the police and one that has improved the public’s perception of the police to address serious crimes.
The RNP developed a community policing approach which has established mechanisms to ensure accountability of law enforcement officers towards local people and to monitor the quality of delivered services.
The rate of crime is estimated to have gone down as a result of community sensitization and reported crime rate reduced by 30% from 2003 to 2004, and by 11% from 2005 to 2006.
Local defense force
The principle behind the LDF is that of ensuring a voluntary policing service by young people, trained by the police to provide local security for one or two days a week.
Essentially the LDFs do patrols (usually in the rural areas with the local populace sometimes with the police in the towns).
They gather information and take ‘trouble makers’ to book. The mainstream police view the LDFs as sources of valuable information. They are also found in areas which have scarcity of normal officers.