The charges against Rwigara family has turned Rwandan Judiciary system into a laughing stock

The Rwanda’s prosecution services unsavoury actions and behaviour has turned Rwanda’s judiciary system into a laughing stock and I tell you why ; I think the state actions have gone too far to undermine Rwanda’s judicial system.

On Friday 6 October 2017, the case of Rwigara Family was adjourned to allow them to have a legal representative. According to media, The Rwigara Family are in custody but they are not aware of what they are charged with and they are not aware of any reason why they are in custody simply because the Rwanda’s prosecution services did not made a file of charges of the case against them be available for their defence.

On Monday, the Rwigara family also appeared before the Judge to be told that their legal representative cannot get access to their charges file because these charges are still under investigation! This saga against Rwigara family makes me wonder- how the hell a prosecution services can press charges against individuals and set a court appearance dates for allegations that are still under investigations?

Not too long ago, the family were charged with tax evasion, criminal charges that have ever since been dropped due to the lack of evidence but the state machinery did not want to leave them alone but use state charges involving the breach against the Rwanda ‘s state security.

By the Rwandan law, any arrest should follow the rules and regulation that govern the Rwanda’s criminal justice system. An arresting officer should state all reason why he is making an arrest against an alleged offender and then within 30 days of arrest, the offender must be brought to court to justify their conducts and the accused must be allowed a legal defence.
The legal defence would not be possible when the accused does not have a full file of what they are accused of by the state. The prosecution services must provide a file and evidence in hand and pass it to the defendant for the defendant to prepare a legal defence. The Rwigara Family is understood that the Rwanda’s prosecution service said that their legal defence lawyer cannot have access to their file because the case’s elements are still under investigation!

Being arrested and put in custody without a legal file, it is rather a kidnap. Why the Rwada’s prosecution services did fail to produce all tangible evidence to the court? why the Rwigara family were arrested before even making an investigation of their alleged offences? Are they going to be kept in prison /in custody because there is a secret file that the state prosecution service cannot share with the Family’s lawyer?

In 2015, the Rwanda gospel singer Kizito was just given 10 years jail sentence for talking Rwanda’s political issues to someone on WhatsApp! Again as Rwigara family, the accused was nt given a legal representative as he was intimidated by the state to plead guilty for what he was accused for to reduce harsher sentence. I doubt that if the singer had a legal representative and was not blackmailed by the state, he would not have gone to jail for that long term period.

The same saga continues today where the President Kagame’s former challenger in the recent Rwanda’s election is faced with criminal charges that remain a secret only known to the state but brought to the public court hearing. How a fair representation is going to take a place when the accused does not know what is against her?

JP Ndindamahina