The Office of Ombudsman has started a week-long nationwide campaign aimed at combating corruption ahead of International Anti-Corruption Day slated for December 9.
Children aged 7-18 across the country will be made aware of the various forms of corruption and how it endangers public welfare while also slowing down economic development.
“There is no development with corruption. People build houses and buy cars when they are no roads,” Deputy Ombudsman, Yankurije Odette told hundreds of kids gathered in Remera, Gasabo District.
National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA) said it has strengthened its efforts to fight against economic and financial crimes, which are ‘violent’ crimes that cause a financial loss.
They include embezzlement, corruption and related offences, illegal awarding of public tenders, tax offences and mismanagements of public property.
The head of economic and financial unit at NPPA, Jean Marie Vianney Nyirurugo, last month said those crimes are committed in a way that makes it difficult to trace them, such as investing the funds in projects with poor or without prior feasibility studies; awarding unplanned tenders; abusing the faculty of contract addendum; procuring unnecessary or substandard assets; abusing the power of correcting arithmetical errors; abusing special procurement manuals for some government business enterprises and so forth.
Prosecutorial strategies put in place by NPPA to fight economic and financial crimes, according to Nyirurugo, include investigating not only the offence committed but also the property of the suspects; freezing and confiscation of assets related to crime; tracing assets hidden in foreign countries; improving awareness focusing on the role of citizens in preventing and fighting these crimes, working with members of the civil society, and strengthening cooperation with other countries in criminal matters.
Deputy Ombudsman, Yankurije Odette commended NPPA’s efforts, adding that even though their role is prosecuting suspected criminals, but “they can’t know crimes that are committed under the bed unless you let them know”. She encouraged the children to report whenever they see someone giving or receiving a bribe.
“When one is illegally awarded a public tender of building a market, they build it badly which makes it easier for the wind to destroy it, and that undermines development,” she added.
Looking at the nature of corruption and related offenses, one may wonder the role children can play to curb them whereas they don’t even get involved when they are committed.
Talking to children representatives from Gasabo, Yankurije said having a clear understanding of corruption “will help build a paradise-like Rwanda when you take over our responsibilities.”
“Straighten the tree while it is still young,” she added.
Children who talked to Sunday Times after the training said they knew little about corruption despite the fact that they usually listen to corruption programs on radio.
“When journalists talk about corruption, I know they are talking about a bad thing, but I can’t really understand what it is about and how it relates to me,” 9 year-old Umuhoza said.
Trained children are expected to share what they learnt with other children in their respective communities.