Rwandans are generally content with the fact that at long last public funds embezzlers are being brought to book. Concerns of all sorts are finally being voiced in respect to Rwanda Government officials who are being tried for embezzling tens, hundreds and thousands of millions of Rwandan Francs in while in office.
For instance, I am shocked to see that the penalty incurred by an official found guilty of swindling RwF 1 billion and more, is hardly ever likely to exceed five years in jail.
The forbidding enormity of the crime as compared to the glaring levity of the punishment leaves room for all and sundry in Rwanda to wonder whether the fault is with Rwanda’s sense and practice of justice, whether prosecutors and sitting judges are to blame for possible graft or incompetence.
The notion of deterrence is universally considered of capital importance in determining criminal legislations.
Living and yet to be born Rwandans tempted to embezzle billions of government money, will most certainly not be deterred by the eventuality of relaxing for 3 to 5 years in the penitentiary.
Relaxing indeed! Convicted swindlers of millions and billions of public funds indeed relax in jail.
Jailed government funds embezzlers have a lot of money to splash about in and out of jail; they live in envied special quarters in prison and they have hosts of attending servants doing a variety of chores for them while they relax and chart courses of their multimillion multifarious businesses going on outside the penitentiary, in Rwanda and the wider world beyond.
The prison microcosm of a typical Rwandan jail has its rich and poor men and women across the wide spectrum of inmates.
Far from being a factor of deterrence, this will encourage more Rwandans to go grabbing public funds tomorrow without a second thought.
Rwandans I spoke to in the course of my enquiry regarding this matter were all keen on asserting that robbers of public funds must be made to restitute the money by all means, in addition to jail sentences.
It strikes one as though our sense of generic justice has been dwarfed by European modernity’s inventions such as the desecration of human, civic and national; the abusive and pervasive systematization of the materiality of human and national life.
Since post genocide Rwanda has largely undertaken to take the lead in regenerating the human world at home and abroad, I recommend that Rwandan lawyers and lawmakers take the trouble to reconsider fundamentals of justice; for justice is the greatest pillar of a worthy human family; justice is a sine qua non prerequisite for the existence of honorable and viable nations.
Ntarugera Deo Koya