The Minister of Interior, Alfred Gasana said that the security situation in Rwanda has continued to improve and that ensuring safety and security of people in the country remains a top priority for law enforcement institutions to provide a crime-free and stable environment for sustainable development.
The Minister was speaking on Wednesday, October 4, during an interaction session that brought together Rwanda National Police (RNP), Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) and journalists, held at the RNP General Headquarters in Kacyiru.
The interaction session was also attended by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Emmanuel Ugirashebuje, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Felix Namuhoranye and RIB Secretary-General, Col (rtd) Jeannot Ruhunga.
It was held under the theme: "Effective partnership towards a safer and crime-free environment."
"Security is generally good throughout the country except these days of heavy rains and disasters; strong winds, floods, thunderstorms, and fire outbreak," Minister Gasana said.
Between January and June, this year, alone, the Minister said that disasters destroyed about 6000 houses, 66 classrooms, 63 bridges, 1490 hectares of gardens and killed 681 livestock.
"Despite the improving security, we still see crimes related to vandalism of utility distribution lines like electricity and water connectivity; theft, assault, narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, defilement, smuggling; all which account for 93 percent of crimes registered in the country," Minister Gasana said.
Most crimes, he said, were influenced by abuse of drugs, drunkenness and domestic conflicts.
Role of media in security
Minister Gasana embarked on the role of media in community policing and security by holding those responsible accountable, disseminating information on safety and security and being the voice of the people.
"The media reports what we do and sometimes we also receive concerns of the people through the media. You serve as a link between RNP, RIB, other institutions and the public, and that plays a crucial role in accountability and service delivery," he said.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Emmanuel Ugirashebuje reiterated the role of media in ensuring justice, identifying suspected criminals, investigations and evidence collection.
"Investigative journalism fights poor services, corruption, keep leaders in check, help Rwandans to understand the law; it is a voice for human rights and fair justice," Minister Ugirashebuje said.
IGP Namuhoranye shed more light on vandalism of power and water distribution lines, hi-tech traffic enforcement cameras and road safety.
Vandalism of power lines
"The issue of vandalism of power, water and cyber distribution lines is of great concern affecting all aspects of life in terms of security, health and economic activities. There are measures in place to fight this high impact crime, including operations targeting chains involved, including vandals and scrap dealers," IGP Namuhoranye said.
At least 829 cases of vandalism targeting energy transmission and distribution lines, were recorded between January and September, this year.
Most cases of vandalism affected service cables, cross-arms stolen from pylons, earthing wires, underground cables, meters, twisted cables, circuit breakers, surge arrestors, and transformer damages, among others.
Rwanda National Police also recovered at least 12360 metres of stolen electricity cables in the same period, and scores of vandals arrested, including 50 apprehended in August alone.
On the issue of road traffic enforcement cameras, IGP Namuhoranye disclosed that plans are underway to erect camera signages across the country, but added that it should not be where cameras are but rather respecting traffic regulations to arrive safely.
"There are behaviors especially by cyclists and taxi-moto operators, which pose threat to road security. We are addressing this mainly through awareness," he said.
Pedestrians account for the majority 30 percent of victims of road carnage followed by taxi-moto operators with 27 percent and cyclists with 25 percent.
However, most accidents are caused or involve taxi-moto operators (25 percent), and cyclists (15 percent) largely due to speeding, reckless driving or riding, driving on wrong lane and wrong overtaking.
IGP Namuhoranye said: "We believe in the role and power of media and this interaction session between media, Police and RIB builds strong partnership to jointly serve and ensure the safety and well-being of the people."
He urged journalists to always ensure fairness and balanced reporting, and to avoid rumours, adding that RNP appointed regional and traffic spokespersons as well as other communication channels to facilitate access to information.
He further urged the media to be the voice in protecting the young people against alcoholism, which is affecting youth development.
"We are in operations against liquor stores, restaurants, shops and supermarkets that have been turned into bars.
Businesses should operate in accordance with the awarded license. We urge businesses and those holding events to avoid noise pollution, which affects rights and beliefs of other people," the Police Chief said.