Rwanda National Police recommitted to fighting corruption
Rwanda National Police recommitted to fighting corruption – IGP K. Gasana
Transparency International (TI-Rwanda) recently released its 2015 Bribery Perception Index (CPI) report showing a relatively high perception on Rwanda National Police (RNP) as an institution where graft prevalence is still high with 6.3%, despite the force being at the forefront in fighting the vice. The Inspector General of RNP, Emmanuel K. Gasana talked to Bosco R. Asiimwe on how the force views such reports, how it has maintained its zero-stance to corruption, the short and long term strategies to fight it.
Below are the excerpts
QN: Tell us how you view corruption, as an institution charged with fighting it
IGP Gasana: Corruption is considered a major threat affecting nations’ security in modern world and Rwanda is not isolated to these challenges. Consequently, security institutions and particularly police, supported by other stakeholders are committed to fighting all forms of corruption.
QN: There are reports that implicate Rwanda National Police as one of the most corrupt institutions in Rwanda, one of them being Transparency International, what’s your take on this?
IGP Gasana: We have drawn lessons from these perception reports. They inform the extent of our committed and dedicated actions against corruption. The same reports indicate that corruption perception in RNP went down from 8.2 percent in 2013 to 6.3 percent in 2015; and that despite this perception, police remains at the forefront of fighting it. Although the stringent measures we put in place have produced tangible results in this course, we have to continue to do more to bring it further down through all available means and ways.
QN: So, what exactly are you doing about it?
IGP Gasana: Rwanda National Police, in its ten key priorities, has given corruption much attention to fight it. This is also imbedded in our strategic and action plans, community-oriented policing programmes, our media and communication activities and our day-to-day operations.
Indeed, since its formation 15 years ago, RNP has put in place anti-corruption strategies under the theme “Policing is partnership” and this has become a spring-board for the prevention and jointness in fighting the scourge.
RNP has, therefore, outlined a number of measures to control and limit the prevalence and perception in particular. These interventions include:
- Anti-corruption directorate under the department of Inspectorate of Services and Ethics;
- A disciplinary unit charged with taking varied actions against officers caught in such and other malpractices that are contrary to the norms and doctrines of the force;
- An anti-corruption and public embezzlement unit;
- Ethics centre which further instill professional standards, values and norms among the police personnel and even to partners;
- We conduct internal audits;
- Established anti-crime clubs (over 800 so far formed in schools);
· We have adopted the ideal of e-policing which has limited officers’ contact with service seekers and limit access to money like in traffic where registering for driver’s licence tests is done online;
We have also signed memorandum of understanding with institutions like Transparency International itself, Ombudsman’s Office, Rwanda Governance Board (RGB), all the 30 districts and other private entities, part of which is to partner to raise awareness and jointly fight corruption. The government is supportive in other welfare schemes like health insurance schemes, armed forces shop, promotions, increasing salaries for servicemen, and transport for officers to and from work, peacekeeping missions and establishing messes to provide meals to officers on duty at fair pay. All these initiatives and many other schemes have been central in fighting graft and keeping it low.
We also established a toll-free line – 3511 – for the public to report abuse by police officer, either soliciting a bribe or in other illegal activities, we have online services where the public can file a complaint or report injustices they face.
QN: How have these strategies been successful?
IGP Gasana: As you may be aware, RNP reels on the culture of ‘zero-stance to corruption’ and no mercy to any officer caught or implicated in such malpractices. In anyway, action has to be taken against those implicated. For example, with these strategies, we arrested 170 police officers in graft-related crimes in 2014 and 78 others have been caught since the beginning of this year. Of all these 248 officers who have been implicated in corruption since last year, 193 have been dismissed from the force. But this doesn’t exonerate them from being prosecuted, so some of them are either serving varied sentences or pending prosecution. We also arrested about 341 civilians majority drivers (117 in 2014 and 224 in 2015), who were attempting to bribe officers or to buy their way out of unlawful acts. We have also received and compiled over 980 case reports related to corruption and embezzlement (487 cases in 2014 and 494 cases between January and September this year), which involved heads and representatives of institutions like local leaders – Mayors, sector executive secretaries, medical workers and officials charged with medical premium funds, VUP-Umurenge, which we have forwarded to prosecution for further action. The Revenue Protection Unit (RPU) attached to Rwanda Revenue Authority – which is also charged with fighting smuggling, fraud and partly corruption – recovered over Rwf4 billion between 2007 and 2013, that otherwise would have been lost through varied fraudulent businesses. Between May and August this year alone, RPU managed to recover about Rwf266 million taxes that otherwise would have been evaded. Probably you have heard about honest officers that have found large sums of money and either declared them to their supervisors or retuned them to rightful owners. There is an officer who found a bag parked with US$40, 000 at the airport and returned it to the delighted owner. Another officer found US$19,700 and gave it to the owner. These are some of those many exemplary officers who have been served with certificates of integrity. That’s how these strategies have been partly effective, and that’s how serious and committed we are on corruption.
QN: Has cooperation, either locally or cross-border, played a role in combating corruption?
IGP Gasana: Policing is partnership. It requires cooperation, collaboration and timely information sharing. These signed MoUs with public and private institutions, partnership with the public through community policing and awareness, cooperation with regional and international police forces and organization have played a crucial part in detecting, identifying and arresting those involved in graft-related tendencies. Like I said, the 980 corruption and embezzlement cases we forwarded to prosecution – involving public officials in local government and other levels of governance, and those in private entities – were partly possible due to this inevitable partnership.
QN: You have outlined a number of measures to deal with graft, are you encountering some challenges in the pursuit to stand by the institution’s ‘Zero-tolerance’ principle?
IGP Gasana: Because of globalization, crimes and corruption in particular are changing forms. There is need for improved joint effort and cooperation among stakeholders, we believe there are other malpractices that are conducted behind doors and some of those that witness such tendencies are reluctant to understand their role to report them. Fighting corruption requires strategic focus, effective collaboration and for everyone to stand by their rights to acquire or be given a service they deserve. By reporting those who solicit bribes and use their position or wealth to influence decisions, you will be saying ‘NO’ to corruption and setting a good example.
QN: With all these measures in place, partnerships as you have mentioned and strategic focus of building a stronger and professionalized police institution, do you see RNP becoming a corrupt-free institution in the future?
IGP Gasana: First, note that corruption is not institutionalized. It is an individual’s misconduct act, and he or she, if caught, is prosecuted individually. Remember that the work of police is in a way so tempting. Despite the professionalism and investigations, there will be one or two criminals or their relatives among the hundreds of cases we handle, who will attempt to offer a bribe to escape the hand of the law, and there is a likelihood of a police officer bending low to these criminal attempts. Despite some of these servicemen getting involved in these malpractices, RNP remain committed and on the forefront to fight it, not only within the force but also in the country in general, as an institution charged with fighting and preventing any sort of crime. Secondly, it is not the only crime that can be a threat to Rwanda’s fast development, safety and security the country enjoys today.
In the last quarter alone – between September and November – corruption and embezzlement, which are considered among ‘high impact crimes,’ constituted about 4 percent of the total crimes registered in the country. However, we still have issues like drug trafficking which stands high at 31.5 percent, trafficking in human beings, domestic and gender based violence. We encounter issues to do with house break-ins.. terrorism is of concern to us. Combating these requires collective effort, cohesion, capacity and capabilities to prevent, detect and fight them. We are increasing the capacity and capabilities through training to enhance detection, skill and knowledge involved to support credible investigations through modern equipment to support scientific evidence.
Back to your question, this is our main goal; in view of able national leadership support, the measures and strategic actions in place, the availability of means, ways and resources, and the drive of the policing partnership, we hope for the very best. Whether such malpractices are registered in CID, traffic, territorial commands or various departments and attachments, what’s required is to uphold discipline that goes with the national vision, police mission, core values and doctrines that guide the professionalism of the force.