Africa-Press – Rwanda. A new draft law is seeking to give back Rwanda National Police (RNP) the legal authority and powers to carry out basic acts of investigation, for example, conducting search, seizure, and collection of evidence. All investigative powers under the current legal framework are vested in Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB).
Presented to the Parliament by Alfred Gasana, the Minister of Interior on Thursday, January 13, the draft law is against the background that, in 2017 when RIB was established, some of the responsibilities formerly exercised by RNP were transferred to the new body, but over time, this has presented some operational gaps in police’s work.
“Following these changes, it was later observed that some operational gaps in RNP functioning needed to be addressed legally so that RNP is fully empowered to operate effectively,” reads an explanatory note to the draft law governing Rwanda National Police.
Some of the gaps in the police’s operation, according to the document, include: lack of powers to conduct searches in an area where crimes are suspected to have been committed; lack of powers to seize certain items related to the crime; lack of powers to collect preliminary evidence at the crime scene; and lack of powers to conduct an investigation of road traffic offences (accidents), among others.
“The fact that RNP lacks such powers is an obstacle to its functioning because as a security organ, RNP should have powers to carry out the above-mentioned activities to assist other organs in charge of the investigation in carrying out their responsibilities. This is one of the reasons behind the review of RNP law so that raised issues are addressed,” the document read.
If passed, the law will bring about changes in the management of the RNP, whereby a new organ dubbed the “Inspectorate General of Police” will be introduced to be in charge of the daily activities of the RNP and to manage all the organs of the institution.
Currently, the Rwanda National Police is managed by the High Council and Senior Management Council. The proposed Inspectorate General of Police will be composed of the Inspector General of Police and his deputies. The draft law also aims at introducing laws that will deal with offenses and penalties related to the desertion of police officers in the RNP.
“This is because desertion from police is an issue that needs to be legally addressed by penalizing it in order to reduce such acts instead of continuing to punish desertion as an administrative fault,” the document reads.