Gold mine

True story accompanying image

Rwanda's economy was gradually recovering from the devastating impact of years of civil conflict when one mining cooperative discovered it had lost more than it thought.

In 2008, a change in Rwandan law meant the cooperative had to renew its certificate. This task fell to the group's president, who was an influential member of the community.

Yet members of the cooperative claim that the president forged the ownership documents and re-registered the mine under his own name. They appealed to local leaders, but the leaders sided with the president.

The cooperative then wrote to Rwanda's Public Prosecutor Authority to request an investigation. When months passed by without a response, they turned to Transparency International (TI) Rwanda, who drafted an appeal for expedience and forwarded it to the prosecutor general.

As a result, the case came to court, and in a stunning victory the cooperative's president was sentenced to 10 years in jail, and fined the equivalent of around US $3,400. Ownership of the mine was returned to the group, who are now working to increase its output for the benefit of the community.

TI Rwanda has since been approached with three more cases related to mine exploitation; encouraging evidence that demand for accountability is growing.

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