Despite progress made in the judiciary in recent years, some gaps are still present in the law in relation to the definitions or classification of corruption and related offences.
The observation was made yesterday by Transparency International Rwanda (TIR) officials, who also said that assets lost in corruption or embezzlement are not recovered effectively whenever there is conviction.
It is against that background that TIR on Tuesday launched a new project to ensure fairness of court judgments related to corruption cases, track the status of assets recovery, and conduct advocacy activities on the identified gaps.
According to Marie-Immaculée Ingabire, the TIR chairperson, the watchdog will conduct a situational analysis of laws related to the prevention and fight against corruption and identify gaps that can impede their implementation.
It will also seek deficiencies in their implementation through the analysis of corruption cases that have been handled by the legal professionals in courts.
“There are gaps in law especially when it comes to corruption and public embezzlement, there is no clear way to recover embezzled money and recovery remains low. There are mistakes which we all need to correct and concerned institutions ensure enforcement,” Ingabire added.
She said that while judges were independent in principle, they pronounce sentences the way they understood.
“Where a crime attracts between six months and five years and fines between Rwf300,000 to Rwf1 million or either of the two, you realise that a criminal is punished according to what the judge wants and this can encourage corruption,” she said.
Ingabire said she was optimistic the project will bring about a great contribution, promising to put in more efforts and share information with all stakeholders to find solutions together to fight corruption.
According to Jean-Bosco Mutangana, the Prosecutor-General, the recovery rate was still slow and the process is yet to yield good results due to challenges such as courts which take long to prosecute criminals.
He said the issue of corruption cuts across and is not only in the judiciary but is also in the private sector and in government institutions.
He said that judicial institutions have strong mechanisms to minimise corruption and asked other institutions to first have internal measures to do so.
He said that corruption was a highly organised crime which was difficult to detect.
“We need to reach at the level where corruption is fought and uprooted, let us work more closely. As long as we are fighting corruption and related crimes, we will not fail, we cannot have such a meeting in vain, let’s look forward to better outcome,” he said.
The one-year project will be implemented at a tune of about Rwf95 million.