Protection of Whistleblowers in Rwanda

Protection of Whistleblowers in Rwanda

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January 24, 2017

spotlight Compliance Champion Spotlight

What is a Compliance Champion? A Compliance Champion is an individual or organization committed to fostering and raising the standards of anti-bribery compliance. TRACE Trends will include posts featuring Compliance Champions from time to time.

We hope you enjoy the following entry from this week’s Compliance Champion, and TRACE Partner Law Firm!

Today’s guest blog post is written by Mr. Johnson Kabera, a lawyer from Kigali, Rwanda and the Managing Partner of Kigali Allied Advocates (KAA). Johnson has been practicing for more than ten years and is passionate about business law and compliance.

The Republic of Rwanda has a strong tradition of fighting corruption. It is among the best-ranked countries in Africa in the TRACE Matrix index of business-bribery risk, and a real standout among its immediate Central-East African neighbors.

One factor in Rwanda’s impressive standing is its history of anti-corruption law and enforcement. In 2003, it enacted Law No. 23/2003 on Prevention, Suppression and Punishment of Corruption and Related Offences, criminalizing both the offering and the solicitation of bribes. The law required that “effective and appropriate protection” be given to those who supply relevant information or testimony about corruption offenses. It also provided an additional incentive to potential whistleblowers in the form of a “bonus” of one-tenth the value of any confiscated property—or a direct payment from the guilty party in the absence of confiscation.

More recently, Rwanda’s parliament has addressed whistleblower protection in greater detail with its passage of Law No. 35/2012 Relating to the Protection of Whistleblowers. The new protections include safeguarding whistleblowers’ identities through use of a case-file code number and in camera testimony at trial. It also grants whistleblowers immunity from civil or criminal action, as long as their information was given in “good faith.” At the same time, supplying false information based on “hatred, jealousy or potential conflict” is prohibited.

The new law takes a sharp turn away from the earlier “reward” model for whistleblowing. Reporting corruption is presented not just as an admirable and courageous act, but as a positive obligation: “A person shall disclose to the relevant organ any information in his/her possession or which has been brought to his/her attention in connection with offenses, illegal acts and behaviors.” And although there is no clear repeal of the earlier-provided “bonus,” the 2012 law rejects the idea of such a bonus as a motivating factor, declaring that “whistle-blowing shall be made as part of patriotism and protection of the public interest, notwithstanding laws that provide for benefits for whistle-blowing.”

This emphasis on whistleblowing as a civic duty may be the right approach here, given the country’s comparative low degree of tolerance for corruption. It may also prove to be a helpful case study in the relative importance of duty, protection, and reward in encouraging whistleblowers to come forward. 


TRACE Matrix: Rwanda
Whistle blowers protection law
Whistleblowing law adds to anti-graft measures
TRACE Trends: Tone at the Top Writ Large

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