USA NGO International Justice Mission (IJM) under CID investigations

KIGALI - A US based Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), International Justice Mission (IJM) is being investigated by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) over allegations that it plagiarised Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development (RISD)’s program, The New Times can reliably report.
 Police Spokesman, Tony Kuramba (L), and Minister of Natural Resources, Stanislas Kamanzi.
Police Spokesman, Tony Kuramba (L), and Minister of Natural Resources, Stanislas Kamanzi.

KIGALI - A US based Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), International Justice Mission (IJM) is being investigated by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) over allegations that it plagiarised Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development (RISD)’s program, The New Times can reliably report.

Without giving details, the acting CID Director Tony Kuramba, last week confirmed to The New Times, that the file has been forwarded to the National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA).

“I cannot give any other details because it may jeopardise further investigations but the police have a complete file on the investigations forwarded to the prosecution,” he said.

A reliable source who preferred anonymity told The New Times that RISD’s Public Relations Officer, Ivan Kayonga and IJM’s Lawyer, James Nuwamanya were on October 2 summoned to the CID offices to record their statements.

Kayonga confirmed the development saying that the RISD is accusing IJM of pirating the drama they (RISD) used in sensitising local authorities and their residents on how to resolve land conflicts among themselves without going to court or local mediators (Abunzi).

“After approving our proposal of how we can help and be part of government’s land tenure reform in Rwanda, we came up with a play that can be acted by residents and make them know how they can collectively look for solutions for any emerging land conflicts,” he explained.

“The play Imbirigisi Y’ivuzivuzi (rumour monger) was composed by one of our staff for only Gatsata sector. For other sectors, we would use a different play since we first go to an area, know its problems and write a play that suits it. However, IJM has been using our play without our consent,” Kayonga complained.

He also said that IJM changed the play’s concept passing a wrong message that residents should rush to IJM for refuge if conflicts emerge instead of getting solutions amongst themselves.

When contacted, Annie Kairaba the Director of RISD blamed IJM for duplicating and manipulating their Land Dispute Management Project (LDMP).

“We started and own this project. Our aim was that one of our staff goes to the sectors we work with and script the play accordingly. We have asked them (IJM) to stop but they have stubbornly ignored us,” Kairaba said in an interview.

When contacted, Dieter Achtzehn the IJM Director Rwanda Field Office, told The New Times that IJM helps in educating the community in dispute resolution as a registered NGO in Rwanda.

“We work with the local authorities within the limits of Rwandan law and local structure helping the community to solve their problems with Umudugudu (cell) leaders and Abunzi(mediators),” Achtzehn said in his Kimihurura office.

When asked whether IJM was pirating RISD’s drama for Land Disputes Management Project, Achtzehn replied that they all have rights and approval from the project funder, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“USAID which funds us, gave us written approval to run the play,” Achtzehn said, hastening to add that he could not avail the written approval to the press.

He blamed RISD for not writing and officially stopping them from running the play and instead rushing the issue to the media.

“We have 20 offices worldwide. We would never do such a stupid thing. We wanted to sit at a roundtable and discuss the matter but they never wanted. Unfortunately they rushed to the media and we kept on hearing these things behind doors,” he said.

When contacted, Emmanuel Nsanzumuganwa the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources,  confirmed the development noting that it is prohibited to reproduce one’s plan.

“I know that case, RISD reported it to us. I am not sure whether it’s IJM but whatever organization is involved in the illegal reproduction is prohibited,” he said. The permanent secretary said that the ministry will intervene and get a solution.

Stanislas Kamanzi, the Minister of Natural Resources last week said that he was yet to meet RISD over the matter. He, however, advised RISD to talk to the Ministry of Local Government which regulates NGOs’ operations in Rwanda, over the matter. He added that his ministry will always monitor whether any implementing NGO does not work outside their policy.

Nsanzumuganwa also said that he was sure RISD was an implementing NGO of the Land Dispute Management Project (LDMP) for land tenure reform in Rwanda. 

International Justice Mission (IJM) reportedly started its land conflicts resolution program campaigns using a play titled Imbirigisi Y’ivuzivuzi acted by a drama group identified as Tubegere (Let’s get close to them).

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