Senators Discuss New Police Bill With Caution

The Minister of Interior, Alfred Gasana has presented to Senate a draft bill that will give Rwanda National Police (RNP) powers to be able to do preliminary criminal investigations, a responsibility that the force once had before the establishment of Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) in 2018.

This December 19, 2022 Minister Gasana tabled the draft bill that governs the RNP expected to replace the one of 2010 . The draft bill was earlier on presented to and approved by the Chamber of Deputies in October 6.

Two key issues that called for revision of the existing Police law, according to Gasana was the gaps seen in conducting investigations, collection of evidence for prosecution and delivering justice on time – these gaps (in article 38) are being caused by the lack of timeliness in delivery, long procedures and lack of man power to in RIB which has the responsibility to do so as of today.
Gasana said that if the Police force is responsible for the above procedures the force will be able to handle criminal and traffic offenses to the benefit the citizens.

The other key issue in the bill is the aspect of increased desertion from the force and possible leaking of government information, of which the bill seek punitive measures to be taken accordingly.

Senator Juvenal Nkusi and many others asked if and how will both organs work together without conflict of interest or if this means that there is weakness in RIB performing it’s duties as indicated in the law of 2018 which established the Bureau.

Sen Letitia Nyinawamwiza asked if these changes were discussed with other institutions and if it will not be a delay of justice and how is the citizens able to benefit from this new methodology of operation.

Sen. Lambert Dushimimana asked if RIB has failed in investigation duties yet it has the responsibility to do in a manner that this responsibility has to go back to Police.
Dushimimana also questioned why tough punitive measures for force deserters yet recruits are by constitution allowed to join or leave the force whenever they feel called to as a matter of choice of work or career.

Minister Gasana said this bill was discussed among many institutions but the challenges were many in justice given.
“If Police is given these powers it would help in delivery of justice and for example police intervention in traffic crims to do statement and delivery on site scene of crime reports in less than 24 hours instead of waiting for RIB to appear on the scene,” Gasana explained.
“There won’t be any conflict but the gaps in delivery of justice on time will be bridged as we all have seen during the intervention where the power was limited to RIB,” he said.

Gasana clarified that preliminary investigation should be done by police without waiting for RIB because the police has numbers and experience in doing this on site and in time. this will help us
“There is no problem with RIB but this one is change of responsibility where the Police will do preliminary investigation and then hand over to RIB and where need be the later can request for more information in case evidence is lacking or the case is weak,” he said

On deserting the force, the Minister said that the process of recruiting will be done only on persons who are committed to join but this can be revisited during the review of the bill in the Senate committee.

Senator Evode Uwizeyimana showed that the revision of Police law of 2010 has to therefore come with revising the law establishing RIB, if this is to make sense.
“This means the RIB law of 2018 will have to be revised because RIB replaced CID, and this review should be done especially on the power of RIB – which means scrapping all laws implicitly that was to have both organs work effectively without conflict of interest as we had before 2018,” Uwizeyimana said.

The draft bill will be submitted to the Senate committee for further analysis before being passed, possibly early 2023.

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