Rwanda: State Attorneys Challenge Petition on RIB Searches

State attorneys have provided a response to the petition submitted to the Supreme Court by a Kigali-based lawyer. The petitioner, Edward Murangwa, is contesting the constitutionality of the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB)’s authority to conduct searches of individuals’ homes and premises without a court-issued warrant.

During the hearing held on Wednesday, May 24, at the Supreme Court in Kigali, Murangwa’s legal team elaborated on the grounds for the petition, emphasizing that conducting searches without a warrant from the judiciary goes against the constitution, which assigns the judiciary the responsibility of safeguarding people’s rights and freedoms.

According to the legislation establishing RIB, the bureau is granted the power to conduct investigative searches on individuals or premises without a warrant if there are reasonable grounds to suspect criminal activity.

Murangwa’s lawyers argued that investigative searches significantly impact human rights and, therefore, RIB should obtain permission from the judiciary before conducting such operations.

In response to the petition, the state attorneys representing the government in the case, Spéciose Kabibi and Petronille Kayitesi, informed the judges that although the government’s branches are independent, they complement one another and operate with mutual trust.

They emphasized that the current approach to conducting searches facilitates the investigative process, as they highlighted resource limitations in Rwanda that may prevent the judiciary from issuing search warrants, as seen in other countries where judges are employed for specific duties beyond trials.