Local watchdog challenges judiciary over corruption

Transparency Rwanda, has accused the judiciary of not eliminating legal procedures that may lead to corruption. Among those include sudden resumption of closed court cases.
Immaculee Ingabire
Immaculee Ingabire

Transparency Rwanda, has accused the judiciary of not eliminating legal procedures that may lead to corruption. Among those include sudden resumption of closed court cases.

According to Chairperson of Transparency Rwanda, Marie Immaculée Ingabire, her office has continuously complained about revisions of the court verdicts with an executory formula.

An executory formula is an enforcement seal stamped on a court ruling that allows the implementation of the verdict.

“There are cases where a ruling is passed, the 30 days of appeal also expire but suddenly the defendant files an appeal under unclear circumstances. There is no way someone can convince us that there is no element of corruption in such arrangements,” said Ingabire.

She added that Transparency Rwanda has continuously raised the concerns with the Judiciary in vein.

Reacting to the accusations, however, the spokesman of Courts, Charles Kaliwabo, refuted the claims, saying that lifting of executory formula seal cannot, in any way, encourage corruption.

“There are situations where a defendant fails to appeal within the required 30 days due to some valid reasons – maybe he or she was sick – in that case an executory formula seal is stamped on the court verdict and a court order is implemented.

“However, anytime the defendant shows up and proves beyond doubt that they were unable to appeal within the stipulated timeframe due to unavoidable reasons, the seal is lifted and the case is revised. This is the misunderstanding we have with Transparency Rwanda,” said Kaliwabo.

He added that the judiciary has held several meetings with Transparency over the same issue, but the parties have since failed to reach an agreement.

“We have requested Transperacy Rwanda to give us lists of the cases they claim were revised under unclear situations, but they have not given us that list,” said Kaliwabo.

Transparency Rwanda argues that, under no circumstances should a sealed case be resumed, and that the resumption of an already sealed case may be a result of a bribe.

Meanwhile Rwanda Bribery Index 2011, released last month, indicates that the average size of bribes reduced from Rwf 27,000 in 2010 to Rwf 19,000 in 2011.

Although the index does not capture high-profile corruption cases, it indicates that the most common form of corruption witnessed in Rwanda is bribery for purposes of securing a service.

A statement from Transparency Rwanda published Thursday indicates reads in part: “the likelihood of encountering bribe demand has reduced from 3.9 percent in 2010 to 1.19 percent in 2011. The institution with the highest likelihood of encountering a bribe demand situation is the police (5.83 percent) followed by mediators (4.62 percent) and the Civil Society (2.88 percent) takes the 3rd position, whereas it was ranked first in 2010.”

It adds that in 2010 survey, the police was ranked 3rd. On a positive, however, the likelihood decreased from 6.1 percent in 2010 indicating an overall reduction in bribery demand cases.

“Village and Justice Institutions come right after the top three while health centres are still the best performers,” reads the statement.

The survey revealed 45 percent of those who engage in corruption do so to obtain services which they are entitled to and should get for free. This represents an increase from 30.7 percent in 2010, indicating an increasing burden on service seekers.

edwin.musoni@newtimes.co.rw

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