Anger as ombudsman report goes public

•Judiciary disputes mode of survey• Challenges Ombudsman to substantiate KIGALI - Following the release of Ombudsman report in which the judiciary was ranked among the most corrupt institutions, the latter has reacted strongly, saying the report was not based on facts.
L-R: Martin Ngoga, Sam Rugege, Mary Baine, Tito Rutaremara
L-R: Martin Ngoga, Sam Rugege, Mary Baine, Tito Rutaremara

•Judiciary disputes mode of survey
• Challenges Ombudsman to substantiate

KIGALI - Following the release of Ombudsman report in which the judiciary was ranked among the most corrupt institutions, the latter has reacted strongly, saying the report was not based on facts.

The judiciary was ranked number two, after the traffic police, in the government Tsar’s 2008 report that was tabled before a joint parliamentary session by Ombudsman Tito Rutaremara.

“As a judge, I have very strong reservations on this report…the Ombudsman should not just crucify institutions basing on random surveys,” said High Court President Johnston Busingye.

When contacted, Deputy Chief Justice Sam Rugege called the report unfair to members of the judiciary and called upon Rutaremara to share with them his findings.

“It is very unfair on the part of the Ombudsman to deduce like that and it is not justified that he could not share with us his findings,” said Rugege.

“The Ombudsman himself is a member of the Superior Council of the Judiciary. It would not have done any harm if he had shared with us his findings,” said Rugege.

According to the report, the judiciary scored 49 percent among the top corrupt entities, coming after Traffic Police that had 60 percent.

“It is dangerous to use those figure and make statements like that; we want evidence and we hope to sit with the Ombudsman to see how we can rectify the image he has tarnished,” said the soft spoken Rugege.

Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga insisted that Rutaremara should have made thorough investigations before the report was tabled in parliament.

“I believe a statutory report before parliament should not be based on opinion polls…should be based on factual cases,” said Ngoga.

He challenged Rutaremara to substantiate the figures of the complaints he notes as having received in the reporting year.

“We have received only 31 of the 446 corruption cases he says he received in one year; where did the rest end? Assuming he found them lacking in evidence, of what relevance is it to include them in the report?” questioned Ngoga.

Rutaremara, in his report, said that the cases that were not sent to judiciary for prosecution were resolved.

Ngoga said that the content of the report may undermine efforts by Rwandan justice to have fugitives in other countries extradited to Rwanda.

“I cannot imagine how next time I would appear in any European court or the ICTR to argue a case of extradition or transfer which should be premised on the credibility of judicial institutions. This is not a cover up, it’s about accuracy.”

Other institutions speak out   
Another institution that was among the top corrupt, according to the report was the Customs department of Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA).

Contacted, Commissioner General Mary Baine said they were still critically analysing the report.

“We are going to look at that report critically, and we have also been putting in place some mechanisms because it is not really a new development,” Baine observed.

She acknowledged that last year, the Ombudsman released a similar report and the same department was again among the first four, but Baine also notes that there were difficulties since it is not only the customs department that is involved in the business.

“When there are delays, say in MAGERWA, or the Bureau of Standards, everything is attributed to customs, and if anybody is seeking a bribe it is attributed to customs,” Baine said.

“Rwanda Revenue Authority is completely opposed or averse to corruption and we are going to continue to fight this war.

Other institutions implicated in the 75-page report include the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which is accused of having sat on remittances of its employees to the National Social Security Fund for the past four years.

Contacted, Eugene Munyakayanza, the Permanent Secretary sounded cautious when the revelations about his ministry in the report were brought up.

“Look, I am consulting on this, gathering information on the situation and cannot comment before getting information from our services to get the real picture,” Munyakayanza said.

Rwanda National Police, under which traffic police fall, also maintained that they would keep up the fight against corruption.

“We have zero tolerance on corruption and any of our officers caught in the act is immediately sacked from the force among other measures,” said Police Spokesman John Uwamungu.

Traffic police ranked first in the Ombudsman’s report and last year, during the national dialogue meeting, the acting Commissioner General of Police, Mary Gahonzire, reported that a policeman tried to extract a bribe from her.

Ends

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