KIGALI, 25 February 2021 – Rwandan National Police has dismissed about 386 police officers for gross misconduct, the Kigali-based newspaper, The New Times, reported Thursday.
The fired officers include 18 senior sergeants, 104 sergeants, corporals, and constables, police sources briefed reporters Wednesday.
Police watchers in the capital, Kigali, said the high number of officers fired is a signal that the quiet cleaning-up of the force remains ongoing.
The number of officers sacked represent six times the total number of under 60 officers dismissed from the force in the ten months from January to October of last year.
While details of the dismissals emerged this week, the ministerial order firing them was signed last February 16.
The ministerial order does not detail the accusations against the officers fires. Rather, it refers to Articles 69 and 70 of the specific statue for police officers pertaining to dismissal without notice and definitive dismissal from the service, respectively.
Sources close to the ministry explained that 146 officers under the definitive dismissal were, more likely than no, sacked over serious disciplinary faults.
The sources said the more than 240 officers discharged without notice could have abandoned duty or made false declarations during recruitment.
Other possibilities are restrictions under the penal laws to resume service.
The dismissals, according to The New Times, come in the wake of growing reports of police officers exploiting the COVID-19 lockdown and travel restriction measures to enrich themselves or to extort citizens.
“Some people were forced to pay bribes in order to escape arrest and penalties imposed by police and local leaders,” corruption watchdog Transparency International wrote in its 2020 Rwanda Bribery Index report.
The traffic department and local leaders were found to the most corrupt in Rwanda in the report.
This was due to the lack of standardized fines for violations of COVID-19 containment measures, said Appollinaire Mupiganyi, the Transparency International Rwanda Executive Director.
Rwanda was ranked the least corrupt country in East Africa with 54 points and the only nation in the region to score above the global average rate of 43 points by Transparency International.
The Rwandese government instituted fines for violations of the COVID-19 restrictions, making those who did not wear masks, those who failed to respect social distancing and those who violated the curfew to pay just north of ten dollars in fines (Rwf10,000) for each violation.
Business owners including bars and restaurants caught in violation paid a fine between $150 (Rwf150,000) and $300 (Rwf300,000).
In addition to financial fines, violators are obliged to attend lengthy sensitization campaigns held in public arenas such as football stadia.