Jean Nepo Mbonyumuvunyi, the Commissioner for Inspectorate of Police Services and Ethics in Rwanda National Police, this week said that, in Rwanda, corruption is treated as a human rights violation.
Corruption is one of the biggest challenges to socio-economic transformation of societies. It fuels injustice, breeds inequality, encourages discrimination, deprives vulnerable people of income, and prevents people from fulfilling their political, civil, social, cultural and economic rights.
However, many would be confused if corruption was considered a human rights violation. But a deeper mirror of the grotesque impact of corruption on society and the nation as a whole would change such an opinion. Human rights violations are any action that violates the personal freedom and rights of a human being.
The government has the obligation to respect, protect and fulfill human rights. When corruption interferes with these obligations, it blights efforts to protect human rights such as delivery of an array of services, including health, educational and welfare services, which are essential for the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights.
Corruption creates discrimination in access to public services in favour of those able to influence authorities to act in their interests, including by offering bribes.
Given Rwanda government’s zero tolerance to corruption, it makes sense that the approach of human rights violation is used in handling graft. This is because if corruption occurs where there is inclination and opportunity, a human rights approach could go a long way in helping to minimise opportunities for corrupt behaviour and make it more likely that the corrupt are caught and appropriately sanctioned.
A human rights approach also focuses attention on people who are particularly at risk, provides a gender perspective, and offers elements of guidance for the design and implementation of anti-corruption policies.
If corruption is shown to violate human rights, it will influence public attitudes. When people become more aware of the damage corruption does to public and individual interests, and the harm that even minor corruption can cause, they are more likely to support campaigns and programmes to prevent it.