The judiciary and traffic police make the list of the most corrupt public institutions, according to the latest Ombudsman’s report to parliament. Traffic police tops all the investigated institutions with an alarming 60.1 percent corruption prevalence rate, while the judiciary follows with almost 50 percent.
These two institutions are a part of the justice sector, and are the custodians of our laws. However, if these shocking figures are anything to go by, you wonder how many suspects will be let off the hook through bribery, or how many innocent people will rot in prisons at the hands of a corrupt judiciary.
In a country like ours which has experienced excesses of lawlessness and victimization in the past, a corrupt judiciary and police are the least things one would need. Our law-enforcing institutions should seek to rebuild public trust and confidence. They are the ones to uphold the rule of law, and should therefore, lead by example.
Undisputedly, this is a Government with a zero tolerance to any form of corruption. But President Paul Kagame needs full commitment and support of the judicial personnel in his anti-corruption campaign; otherwise the battle will be much harder to win, if not lost.
Corruption in institutions that are otherwise supposed to protect and enforce the law is what has failed many countries’ efforts to curb the vice. The reason is simple: you can’t genuinely bring culprits to account when you are a corrupt judge. Period.
Similarly, with a significant portion of the traffic police officers corrupt, forget about those slogans against traffic indiscipline.
Certainly, you can’t win the battle against drunken driving, over-speeding and other forms of reckless driving when officers who should be enforcing road traffic rules are instead conniving with motorists to break those very rules With such a state of affairs prevailing on our roads, passengers’ lives are at a high risk, and the nation loses a significant amount of revenue in fines
The Ombudsman, Tito Rutaremara, has just blown the whistle. Unfortunately, he cannot do much to ensure that the culprits are brought to book. The Ombudsman’s office has its own limitations in the law, which I believe stand in its way to genuinely crackdown on corruption.
It should be given powers to bring about a real change in the anti-corruption drive by dragging suspects to courts of law and taking tougher measures against culprits.
Still, I salute Mzee Rutaremara for being able to point at the irregularities. The Auditor General’s office is equally doing a good job in exposing massive anomalies in the management of taxpayers’ money.
Some people try to blame such anomalies on lack of experience and accounting skills on the part of civil servants, than deliberate intentions to swindle state finances.
The latest Ombudsman’s report is a call to action – on both legal and administrative fronts. Chief Justice and Commissioner General of Police, should immediately rise to the occasion and invoke their administrative powers, lest we begin to see institutional corruption cropping up.
The Prosecutor General should also redouble his efforts in dragging the suspects to the courts of law, and pursuing justice all the way.
The people of Rwanda should also not just fold their hands across their chests or watch from afar or even wring their wrists as the corrupt try to swindle them.
They should report any suspicious cases of corruption to the necessary authorities. Hopefully, there will be a few good men and women in the police and judiciary who will try to follow up these cases.
When the necessary authorities stamp their feet against corruption and swiftly handle the reported cases, only then shall the title of this article change. Otherwise, shame on traffic police, judiciary…
The author is the Marketing & Communication Specialist for the Workforce Development Authority (WDA)