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Special Report

Legal Analysis: Rwanda’s Approval Of Prime Minister’s Order On Human Trafficking, Victim’s Protection Is Great Step

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Rwanda has adopted a Prime Minister’s Order for the protection of Human trafficking Victims and this is a big step towards conformity with main international instruments on human trafficking that Rwanda has ratified, notably- including among others, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, 2000 (commonly known as the Palermo Protocol).

It was not until 2012, that trafficking in persons was criminalized and punished under Law N° 01/2012/OL of May 2, 2012 Instituting the Penal Code of Rwanda, which criminalized for the first time “Offences related to Human Trafficking, Illegal Removal, Sale and Use of Human Body Organs.

In 2018, Human Trafficking was legislated with a specific law N° 51/2018 of August 13, 2018 Relating to the Prevention, Suppression, and Punishment of Trafficking in Persons and Exploitation of Others, Official Gazette N° 39 of September 24, 2019 (Hereinafter “Rwandan Anti-Trafficking Legislation”).

It is in the light of the state responsibilities derived from such international instruments that Rwanda has adopted various measures aimed at combating human trafficking and in the meantime dealing with its negative aftermaths. In that regard, that a Counter Trafficking Legislation is in force.

It is therefore important and evident that the Rwandan Counter-trafficking legislation has remained in conformity with the international anti-trafficking laws, especially the Palermo Protocol. Such conformity is usually assessed in mirrors of criminalisation, victim protection and prevention.

Rwandan anti-trafficking law provides for protection of human trafficking victims which is in conformity with the provisions of the Palermo Protocol especially in its article 6 which creates obligations to its state parties to this protocol.

Protective mechanisms for human trafficking victims under Rwanda law (especially in its Articles Art. 10, 11, 12,13) include; keeping the identity of the victims confidential, preventing them from discrimination of any kind, giving them special treatment, repatriation of foreign victims or even allowing them to stay in Rwanda, plus not holding them criminally liable for illegal entering Rwanda as well as several exclusive protective measures for child victims inter alia.

The Palermo Protocol aims at three main objectives as provided in its article 2 and those are; (a) To prevent and combat trafficking in persons, paying particular attention to women and children; (b) To protect and assist the victims of such trafficking, with full respect for their human rights; and (c) To promote cooperation among States Parties in order to meet those objectives.

The scope of Palermo Protocol covers the acts of human trafficking which are cross boarder or transnational as stipulated in its article 4.

However, Rwandan anti-trafficking law under its article 11 paragraph 2, in as far as victim protection is concerned provided for a specific ministerial order that would detail all the kinds of protective measures to the victims of human trafficking. In Article 11, Paragraph 2 of the Rwandan Counter Trafficking legislation, it states that; “An Order of the Minister provides for other particular means for support to the victim and services made available to him/her.”

The ministry referred to therein is the ministry in charge of justice. Additionally, the anti-trafficking law provides for a Prime Minister’s order which has been approved by the cabinet of July 14, and this is a big step towards victim protection as outlined above. Article 15 of the Rwandan counter-trafficking legislation provides “A Prime Minister’s Order determines an organ responsible for providing necessary means to cover the cost of transportation and repatriation to Rwanda of the victim and modalities for their allocation.

The Prime Minister’s order, has therefore come as a guarantee to victim’s protection required by the Rwandan law.

The author is an advocate with the Rwanda Bar Association and a PhD Researcher at Tilburg University Graduate Law School, Netherlands, focusing on dynamics and challenges of addressing human trafficking in Rwanda in view of the emerging investigations and prosecutions.

 

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Special Report

SCANDAL: How A Group Of Young Rwandan Executives Are Swindling Billions Of Pension Funds

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Once upon a time, President Paul Kagame visited a North African country to cement bilateral relations.

While there, he noticed and admired something peculiar; a magnificent multi-million-dollar world-class golf course.

He returned home and asked officials whether Rwanda would invest in a global class golf course. They nodded. He gave them the blessings they needed.

In January 2018, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), as the lead institution comprised of several institutions, set up a joint committee to manage the funds and oversee the execution of the project.

The team would expropriate the then 9-hole Kigali Golf Course and secure funds to hire an international contractor to construct a world-class golf course and a clubhouse with international standards.

A French firm, Gregori International & Gary Player, was awarded a US$4 million contract to design and construct new 9-holes and repair the existing 9-holes.

All was well until RDB handed over the project to Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) as the beneficiary of the project.

Rwanda was about to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and there was the idea that a magnificent golf course would add value to the summit.

RSSB needed blessings from the Minister of Finance to invest massively into this facility.

Taarifa can confirm that the Minister, Uzziel Ndagijimana, wrote to the RSSB Director-General, then Richard Tusabe, now Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance in Charge of the National Treasury, giving him the power of attorney and authorising him to register a private company with RDB that would run the project.

A point to note, the letter was not dated, as lawyers advised Taarifa, an undated document is not lawfully binding.

However, if both parties proceed as if it had been dated, then implied decisions, contracts or assignments will arise based on the terms of the undated document, including using the document to backdate other documents and so on. It is an illegal document that facilitates illegal actions or wrong administrative procedures.

Tusabe would be replaced by Regis Rugemanshuro in February 2020.

In files seen by Taarifa, the company was created on August 9, 2019, three days after the RSSB Board Resolution authorizing its creation with a share capital of Rwf19.6 billion, and conferred all the rights to the management to choose the name and perform all formalities and legal procedures.

Strangely, the board resolution was notarized about two weeks after the creation of the company.

The company, Rwanda Ultimate Golf Course LTD (RUGC), began operations so quickly. The management was set up with its board, chaired by Alain Ngirinshuti, Josue Dushimimana as the Managing Director, Ntwali Kevin Habineza as a Board Member, Brian Kirungi as a Board Member and Patrick Gihana Mulenga also as a Board Member. The company reports to RSSB.

These would be the names that turned this whole project into failure, running the company like a private business, misusing the funds, abusing corporate governance practices, working without accountability and no financial audits conducted that led to the highest level of impunity and arrogance.

Illegal tenders

The moment the management took over from RDB, it maintained independence and would only allow the involvement of other stakeholders from a distance.

The moment RSSB transferred billions of francs into the company’s account, the team went on a spending spree.

They have been issuing tenders to suppliers without competitive bidding.

They issue payments without documents to back up invoices submitted by suppliers. All these are practices Taarifa established from hundreds of files acquired from a trusted source.

After months of carefully scrutinizing the documents and seeking expert views, this becomes our first story.

On August 26, 2019, the RSSB board sat in an extraordinary meeting to approve additional investment into the company to expand the course and develop it to meet USPGA standards after the management proposed its budget.

The budget had been increased from US$4 million to US$16 million.

According to the dossier of board resolutions seen by Taarifa, the management informed the board that the increase of the budget was because they had developed the course that meets the demanded standards within the given deadline from 18 to 9 months.

Disturbingly, the board did not only raise concerns and express reservations on the budget, the budget was presented without a detailed Bill of Quantities for the board to make arguments for negotiations or price comparisons.

Notably, the contractor, Gregori International, would remain the favoured firm. Their contract was extended without meeting lawful procedures.

Normally as per procurement laws, even in the initial set up of this company, extension or revision of the contract exceeding 20% requires an institution to call for competitive bidding.

In this case, what RUGC LTD did was to write to a pre-selected number of firms requesting them to submit their proposals.

Taarifa can reliably confirm that this was a mere formality because the decision to hire Gregori International had been made in separate meetings.

How did Taarifa know? Apart from trusted sources confirming this fovour towards Gregori International, we have a copy of minutes from a negotiation meeting between the company and a technical committee held three days after the registration of RUGC; on August 12, 2019.

Three meetings were held from 12th to 14th August at the Kigali Golf Course Boardroom to discuss awarding the firm an extended contract.

Eleven people from RDB, RSSB, KGC, Gregory International, RUGC LTD attended the meetings.

Before the RSSB board meeting of August 27 that approved the budget, this technical committee sat and discussed with Gregori International.

At first Gregori International presented an outlandish proposal to the tune of US$19 million.

The technical committee was worried the figure was too high and would be difficult to convince the RSSB board to get it approved.

The team agreed to cut it to US$12 million (taxes included). It means Gregory International would pocket US$16 million (the initial US$4 million and the extra US$11 million).

Golf Course not ready

Signatures were penned and funds were transferred. Until today, the course has never been ready.

The management of RUGC LTD is in bed with the contractor. Taarifa has evidence of unethical behaviour by the contractor and members of RUGC LTD.

The contractor would submit invoices for unfinished work and funds would be transferred nonetheless.

Approvals for the transfers would be made by both the Chairman and the Managing Director themselves.

By June 2020 when CHOGM was supposed to happen, the Golf Course was not yet ready.  They tossed to a god that saved them from a catastrophe of embarrassing the country.

After the postponement of CHOGM, the management of RUGC LTD worked harder and hoped they would have the Course ready by June 2021.

Their god was working so hard, CHOGM was again postponed before the course was ready. Both the contractor and RUGC LTD have never explained why the course has not been completed.

Taarifa’s assessment is that the reason is due to the lack of RUGC LTD’s moral authority to hold the contractor accountable.

Sources say the contractor has been offering members of the management kickbacks, although no evidence was provided to prove the allegations, looking at the relationship between the two, it is a no brainer.

Maintenance contract

Meanwhile, Taarifa can also confirm that the same contractor was awarded a tender to maintain the Golf Course.

Normally, the contractor cannot be the one winning the maintenance contract, unless several other suppliers have failed to do the job.

Sickeningly, the firm pockets maintenance fees before it has completed the construction work as per contractual terms.

At the beginning of June 2021, the contractor marvelled through most of the golf course and recklessly sprayed it with a harmful chemical.

A large portion of the multi-million-dollar course was burnt and is beginning to see life again two months later.

It all began with the supplier ignoring the content of the soil sample that needed specific chemicals and fertiliser pillage as reported in our earlier story below.

Taarifa tried to reach out to Alain Ngirinshuti for answers about all these issues. We sent him a long list of questions several days ago. He promised to revert. He never did and could not return calls anymore.

Regis Mugemanshuro (Left) receives instruments of RSSB from predecessor Richard Tusabe (Right): Photo by Igihe

We also reached out to RSSB Director-General Regis Mugemanshuro. He ignored our queries too.

We tried to reach to RDB CEO, Clare Akamanzi, she was not available for comment by press time.

Our next story into our investigations will follow soon.

Editor’s Note:

Alain Ngirinshuti

Here are the questions Alain Ngirinshuti couldn’t answer

  1. Are you aware of any issues of financial mismanagement at KGC?
  2. If yes, have you done anything?
  3. What is your level of involvement in contracting suppliers?
  4. Has the board ever expressed concern regarding any contract and what did you do in response?
  5. Why has the contractor not yet handed over the course?
  6. What was the basis for contracting the same company that built the course to maintain the course before it even handed it over?
  7. The course would have been used during CHOGM, as far as we know. What happened that it’s not yet ready now?
  8. Some suppliers have signed contracts without any competitive bidding. Examples include GI’s contracts. What was the basis?
  9. This is an Rwf19b investment from pension funds. How will pensioners recover their money? What’s the nature of the business…is it a direct return on investment and for how long?
  10. One of the board resolutions of the August 26, 2019 meeting is that the course must be USPGA standard….is this what GI produced? And is it part of the terms in their contract?
  11. Did you engage an independent PGA accredited (quality auditor ) verifier to ascertain what’s in GI’s terms of reference?
  12. What exactly happened at the course when it was burnt. Who is responsible? What’s the estimated loss? Will there be compensation?
  13. As chairman, and from the appointing authority, what are your responsibilities?
  14. As chairman, do you get involved in day-to-day financial transactions and approvals of the company?
  15. Who do you report to? How many reports have you produced ever since you were appointed? Are these reports public? If no, why?

Here are questions RSSB Director-General couldn’t answer

  1. Has RSSB ever conducted an audit into the KGC project?
  2. If yes, what did you find out?
  3. If no, why not?
  4. Several tenders were issued without competitive bidding. Are you aware? If yes, what did you do?
  5. How much in total has RSSB invested into KGC?
  6. What was/is the philosophy behind this investment and how will the funds be recovered?

 

Multimillion-dollar Kigali Golf Course Recklessly Destroyed By Harmful Chemicals

 

 

 

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Crime

Tracking Murder Of Ghana’s Social Activist

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Ghanaians are currently digesting the troubling murder of a popular social actvist and the matter is spiraling into a national security issue.

Taarifa has been carefully following up on this case and coroborating with local media reports in the west African country.

The Ashanti Regional Police Command has arrested three persons for the murder of social activist, Ibrahim Mohammed, also known as Kaaka Macho whose death sparked clashes leading to the killing of two others in Ejura.

At least six people sustained various degrees of injury after some angry youth clashed with a police-military team in the Ashanti regional town.

Ghana’s JoyNews, the media station which has been at the forefront of the news coverage in the farming community, has been cataloging how suspects believed to have played a role in the murder were arrested.

On June 26, 2021, Haruna Mohammed of Ejura lodged a complaint with the Ejura police that on the same day at 01:30 hours, his younger brother Ibrahim Mohammed, 45 was returning home on his motorbike when he was ambushed by an unknown assailant.

According to him, while the deceased was entering his house, the assailant(s) attacked and hit his occipital region with a stick and he fell to the ground unconscious.

He was rushed to the Ejura Government Hospital and later referred to KATH for further treatment.

At 14:30 hours, the Ejura police, in the company of the complainant, Haruna Mohammed, proceeded to the crime scene at Dagomba Line in Ejura and pointed to a club stained with blood at the entrance of house Number Plot 267 Block H as the possible murder weapon.

Police took photographs and retrieved the blood-stained club for evidential purposes.

Spot enquiry could not lead to any suspect(s) to the crime but a female tenant confirmed that she was in her room when she heard the arrival of the victim on his motorbike.

According to her, she later heard a loud shout which made her come out of the room, only to find the victim lying unconscious in a pool of blood.

Kaka

She said, with the assistance of others, they rushed him to the Ejura Government Hospital. Statements were taken from the complainant and others but they could not mention the name of any suspect.

Police investigators then extended enquiry to the hospital where the victim was met at the Emergency Ward and was attended to by the Medical Officer, Dr. Mensah Menye.

The deceased was later referred to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi.

Meanwhile, the Police had contacted credible informants in the area to volunteer vital information to aid in the arrest of the perpetrators of the crime.

June 27, 2021:
The investigator in the case, General Constable Sam-Sowah Sylvester, left his Ejura-base station for Kumasi to visit the victim and to possibly issue a medical form.

Ibrahim Mohammed, after his referral from Ejura Government Hospital, remained in an unconscious state.

June 28, 2021:
Ibrahim Mohammed, also known as Kaaka Macho died whilst on admission at KATH at 01:40 hours. His demise cast a shadow of things to come.

The youth of Ejura at 18:30 on June 28, 2021, went on a rampage. They took to the streets and later besieged the Ejura Police station.

The youth, in the process, caused damage to a Toyota RAV4 4×4 vehicle with registration number AS 4910–14 which belongs to Inspector Kofi Agyapong from the Mampong Divisional headquarters. They also destroyed the lighting system at the charge office of the Ejura Police Station.

At 22:45 hours, the police picked up intelligence that the victim, Ibrahim Mohammed, also known as Kaaka, was attacked and wounded with a club by Ibrahim Issaka and Fuseini Alhassan, a butcher.

With the assistance of the Formed Police Unit and the Special Weapons and Tactics teams, the two suspects were arrested at the Ejura–Sekyedumase District Assembly Revenue checkpoint to assist with investigations.

Suspect Ibrahim Issaka, also known as Anyaas, described as a ticket seller was chased by some angry youth who wanted to lynch him for his alleged involvement in the murder of Kaaka Macho.

Sensing danger and in an apparent attempt to save his life, Issaka abandoned his motorbike at the checkpoint.

Police found the checkpoint vandalized by the rampaging youth who stole an unspecified amount of money collected during the day.

Photographs were taken at the scene for evidential purposes and suspects sent to Asante Mampong to be detained.

On June 29, 2021;The body of the late social activist was released to the family for burial in line with Islamic custom.

The Ashanti Regional Police Command deployed men to provide security and move side-by-side with mourners; a majority of whom were youth.

Personnel of the Formed Police Unit and the Special Weapons and Tactics teams deployed earlier to the community took strategic positions at the Ejura Police Station and the offices of the Ejura Sekyedumase Municipal Assembly after police picked up intelligence that the two establishments could become targets of the angry youth.

But all hell broke loose when the angry youth, whilst returning from the cemetery after the burial of Kaaka, started attacking anything in NPP colours, including meeting venues for the youth group, Kandahar. Some of them also burnt car tyres in the middle of the road.

The police team, all this while, could not fire any warning shot, since they were instructed not to do so until a reinforced military team arrived.

The rest is history…

2 dead, 4 injured as military and police clash with protesting Ejura youth

June 30, 2021:
At about 9 a.m, a brother of Ibrahim Mohammed, Iddi Mohammed also known as Chuburus, a Blacksmith was arrested at his Dagomba Line residence to assist police with investigations.

July 1,2021:
Suspects arrested in connection with the gruesome murder of Ibrahim Mohammed ‘Kaaka’ were transferred from Asante Mampong where they had been in custody since their arrest to the Ashanti Regional Police headquarters.

July 2, 2021: Three suspects arrested in connection with the murder of Kaaka in Ejura-Sekyedumase made their maiden appearance before the Asokwa District Court in Kumasi.

The pleas of Issaka Ibrahim, also known as Anyaase, Fuseini Alhassan and Iddi Mohammed, were not taken when they appeared before the court presided over by Her Worship, Akua Adu Boahen.

They were charged with conspiracy to commit crime and murder contrary to Section 46 of the Criminal Offences Act of 1960.

The court was told the chilling account of how the deceased was attacked at about 1:30 am whilst returning home on his motorbike. (Ejura murder: Chilling account of how social activist was murdered in cold blood)

They were remanded after the Prosecutor, Chief Superintendent Kofi Blagodzi prayed the court for more time for the police to thoroughly investigate the case.

Other details adapted from Myjoyonline

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Special Report

Journalists Review Deadly Ambush In Burundi

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As everyone was winding up work and retiring home on a saturday evening a group of armed gun men had finished setting up what would become the deadliest ambush of the week.

Until today, Burundians and especially residents in the town of Rutegama in Muramvya province are still in utter shock following the gruesome terror attack that left 5 people dead, 9 seriously wounded and 2 missing according to local media reports.

This deadly attack follows another simillar ambush-style attack in May in which 12 people were killed in the same Muramvya province.

A team of local journalists set off from their head office in the commercial capital Bujumbura to Muramvya to review the scene of crime.

On the road, life seems normal, bicycles loaded with bunches of bananas or charcoal descend on Bujumbura like suicide bombers, crowded buses, pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, minibuses rolling in open grave, vehicles travel agencies, tractor-trailers, loaded tankers, tinted-window pickups with heavily armed men in the back and other large all-terrain vehicles with tinted windows, etc. The traffic is fluid.

From Bugarama to Muramvya and from Muramvya to the capital of Rutegama commune, on the road in any case, nothing suggests that a terrible tragedy took place the night before.

But when we begin the descent from Munanira, towards the place where the ambush was set, all the vehicles slow down or come to a stop. A minute’s silence for those swept away by the deadly attack?

No, curiosity. Passers-by want to see two charred carcasses up close. The vehicles burned Saturday night. The carcasses were cleared to leave the way free for traffic.

The bewildered passers-by look at the carcasses of the vehicles. The expression on their faces speaks volumes. We see fear and desolation. The remains of the crime are there, in all their horror.

At this place, commonly called “Kwa Comptable”, named after a former municipal tax collector, the terrible smell of scorched flesh and gasoline still hangs over the place. You have to have a strong stomach.

Police officers come towards us. They saw our colleague’s camera on Web TV. We are introducing ourselves. In Kirundi, they tell us, “No camera please. Put away your devices and don’t take your smartphones out. Orders from “above” are formal “.

The police are very correct with us, even respectful. Our colleague puts the camera away. We take out our notebooks, the police let us talk to people. In the vicinity of the scene of the crime, people were witnesses.

“You see for example this black thing there, unrecognizable, it is human flesh, charred, this is a charred cell phone, the keys are visible. The attackers had time to burn everything. We see clothes half consumed by fire, a poor bunch of charred bananas, corn and bean seeds reduced to ashes ”.

A vision that will still haunt our nights. In the carcasses of the vehicles, we see charred bones.

Until the afternoon of Sunday, the population and families of the missing sought to identify the remains of their own among the wreckage of vehicles and charred bodies at the scene of the attack.

Testimonies of survivors

It is especially from a few survivors that journalists were able to gather some important testimonies. The injured are being treated at Kibimba hospital. Some had burns on their bodies, others gunshot wounds.

For security reasons, which we understood, the survivors did not wish to be photographed.

A question torments us: “Who attacked?” Those who were strong enough to speak to us say that it is difficult to identify them. “But what is certain, they had guns and were well prepared for this ambush,” said one injured.

“By the time I saw a barricade made of stones in the middle of the road, and bullets had started to whistle everywhere. After that, it was the save-who-can. The operation lasted, I would say a quarter of an hour,” said another survivor.

According to the man, who was shot in the right leg, there was no indication that there were criminals on the road. Traffic was normal on Saturday evening. “No one suspected that people were going to die on this road, we had just come from a family celebration,” the voice chokes, remembering what he has been through.

All the survivors say that the attackers had only one mission: to kill. They coldly shot at the passengers in the vehicles, sprayed them with gasoline and set them on fire.

After their crime, the group of armed men withdrew in the direction of Gashingwa towards the communes of Ndava, in the province of Mwaro and Kiganda of the same province of Muramvya.

Fear sets in

Of course, the lives of these survivors are no longer in danger today, but the fear is there. The survivors fear reprisals from these aggressors. “Maybe they could recognize us and come and finish us off.”

They say this fear is justified because they learned of two people brutally murdered on Gashwinga Hill, one kilometer from the ambush.

The wounded would like to change hospitals quickly so as not to suffer the same fate as this family who had the misfortune of meeting these armed men at the time of their withdrawal.

“I think they’re still around because they can’t just go extinct and volatilize into the wild. They didn’t have time to go very far, “worries another survivor who suffered burns on his shoulder.

The people of Rutegama are afraid; After this ambush, there are a lot of men in uniform moving around in this locality in search of these armed men responsible for this attack.

As they have yet to identify the culprits, worries one Rutegama resident interviewed, we fear they will attack members of opposition parties and retired military personnel. He says he is a member of the CNL party.

In addition, another ambush set in the night of Sunday, May 9, 4 km from the capital of this same province by unidentified armed men is still remembered.

We have to go back down to Bujumbura. A special mention to the authorities and police. Administrators, law enforcement, Red Cross and civil protection agents did a great job, evacuating the wounded and those killed on Saturday.

On the other hand, it cannot be ignored that as journalists we went into the field without any problem. We respected the ban on filming. We had wanted to interview the administrator of Rutegama.

He was very cooperative, he was overwhelmed; “I’m evacuating bodies, there is no mortuary in Rutegama, please excuse me,” he told us. We got it too. Let us hope that this peaceful climate between journalists and the authorities continues.

Of course, we know that a good article must answer the famous 5Ws: “What? Who? Where? When? Why? How much, who, what, how, where, when, why? ” This is a fundamental rule of journalism.

On the way back, we are aware that we do not have the answers to at least two essential questions: “Who are the attackers? And “why do they commit these crimes?”

iwacu

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