Police symposium: Experts weigh in on enhancing justice for safer Africa

On 17 June 2023 at 10:00

The 10th edition of the Police Senior Command and Staff Course (PSCSC) concluded on Friday, June 16, at the National Police College (NPC) in Musanze District as experts explored on enhanced justice as a yardstick for peace and security in Africa.

The Minister of Interior, Alfred Gasana, while closing the symposium, said that persistent conflicts in Africa are customarily associated with different forms of social injustices, failure to address the basic human security needs and root causes of conflicts like marginalization; equal access to opportunities and resources, inclusiveness and equal protection by the laws, among others.

Africa, he said, has been experiencing a number of transnational organized crimes such as terrorism, cybercrimes, drug trafficking, smuggling of migrants, human trafficking, money laundering, trafficking in firearms, and counterfeit of goods, among others.

"In re-thinking of a peaceful and secure Africa, there is always a compelling need to address all the social injustices-related root causes of conflicts in order to effectively foster justice for sustainable peace and security on the continent.

It requires restructuring various continental and regional judicial mechanisms dealing with crimes affecting peace and security; building strong and fair judicial systems that are responsive to the citizens’ needs; and promoting good collaboration of justice practitioners with security and law enforcement organs," Minister Gasana said.


Inspector General of Police (IGP) Felix Namuhoranye, in his insight on community-based violence as an approach to crime prevention—the RNP experience; said that the goal of modern policing is preventing crimes, not just catching criminals.

In his view, effective police forces have low arrest rates because their communities have low crime rates.

To achieve the required effectiveness in crime prevention, he added, the police needs to engage the public in matters of policing.

"The post-genocide policing landscape warranted a drastic paradigm shift from traditional policing to a more pro-active, preventive and pro-people approach to law enforcement. In the tragic past, the Genocidal regime had used law enforcement agencies, among other state capabilities, to perpetrate the genocide," IGP Namuhoranye said

Embracing community policing, he said, started with doing away with three major traditional policing shortfalls; aggressive and dehumanizing policing, unnecessary social distance (lack of engagement) between the police and communities they serve; and reactive policing with minimum responsiveness.

Dr. Jurgen Stock, Interpol Secretary General, said that transnational crime thrives when law enforcement stops at the border.

"International police cooperation is the single most effective tool to deprive them (criminals) of that opportunity. In Africa, and across the world, the threat landscape is constantly evolving, which requires adapting and seizing all opportunities available," Dr. Stock said.

Prosecutor General, Aimable Havugiyaremye, in exploring justice system reform for peaceful society—the case of Rwanda; said that the 1959-1994 injustice and impunity in Rwanda was the definition of leadership at the time.

"Stopping the Genocide against the Tutsi was not the end of the struggle but rather a new chapter towards transformation, including reforming the justice sector in a completely destroyed country of people with no hope, traumatized and with broken hearts," Havugiyaremye said.

He added: "The principle was not to react with bitterness but to seek transformation of the suffering into a creative workforce; eradicate the culture of impunity and build the rule of law; national ownership of its development programmes-homegrown solutions- such as Gacaca courts; having a national identity as Rwandans not defined on ethnic lines."

Alice Wairimu Nderitu, the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, underscored that without justice there can’t be reconciliation, rebuilding and peace.

"Our collective pledge is not to forget to hold accountable perpetuators of Genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Accountability to prevent crimes is important not only to obtain justice for the victims and rebuild trust in justice and security institutions, but also prevent recurrence and build the foundation of safer societies and peaceful co-existence," Nderitu said.

She added: "Rwanda is an example of strong foundation of justice system that seeks to end impunity and to ensure that all perpetuators are held accountable. 29 years after the Genocide against the Tutsi, significant steps towards justice and accountability have been achieved both in Rwandan courts and before the international criminal tribunal, even if more remains to be done."

She urged all states to ensure that all possible efforts are undertaken to bring the roaming genocidiares to justice and to give justice to victims.

The recent arrest of Fulgence Kayishema, she observed, means so much for the victims, survivors and respect for their dignity, safety and long lasting peace.

Dr. Alphonse Muleefu, the acting Principal for the University of Rwanda-College of Arts and Social Science (CASS), explored justice as an evolution and nexus to peace and security.

He observed that most internal conflicts result from social injustice such as exclusion... adding that distributive justice is key to peace and justice.

He also pointed out that external interference will not address the issues at hand because they are "normatively driven."

The Permanent Secretary in Rwanda’s Ministry of ICT and Innovation, Yves Iradukunda, said that although technology has helped in economic growth and financial inclusion, among others, it has amplified criminality.

In his view on globalization and criminality in Africa—the double face of technological advancements; lack of awareness and preparedness put institutions are high risk.

"We have to deploy the right policies and regulatory framework to govern artificial intelligence, and ethical guidelines that guide our IT experts," Iradukunda said.

Jean Philbert Nsengimana, the Chief Digital Advisor at Africa CDC, said that Africa ,which lost at least 10 percent of its GDP to cybercrime, last year, continues to face big heists today affecting mainly the banking, retail and manufacturing sectors.

"How do we make state actors to address this serious threat? The conventional tools are being consumed by criminals and we have to always think about being ahead of criminals, and that goes with radical capacity building and ethical considerations, but also to think of serious penalties, rehabilitation and employing unconventional methods including utilizing the skills of those apprehended in addressing the problem instead of penalizing," Nsengimana said.

In response to fake news and misinformation, particularly in regards to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, he argued that volume matters more than just quality, and that helps in the generation of Artificial Intelligence.

Brig. Gen. Ronald Rwivanga, the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) spokesperson, in his touch on ’terrorism and violent extremism in Africa-trends and responses; said that this remains the main security threat in Africa affecting the Sahel region, north and west Africa, Somalia and Mozambique.

"All groups are motivated by the need to form Islamic states, institute sharia law, quest for control of territory and resources, and are grouped around tribal and religious sense of ownership.

This is a result of governance failure, none governance inclusion and failure to maintain state balance," Brig. Gen Rwivanga said.

Inclusion, integration and involvement, he pointed out, are at the centre of Rwanda’s governance. "Strategic, operational layer—prevent and pursue—and participating in actions—human security and community development activities—that win hearts and minds of the people. These are ideals of Rwanda security agencies both in and out of the country where they operate."

Moderator, Dr. Charity Wibabara, Prosecutor General, Aimable Havugiyaremye, Dr. Busingye Kibumba of Makerere University and Dr. Alphonse Muleefu, the acting Principal CASS-UR. The panel discussed on 'justice in Africa; past and current status.'