The Rwanda Investigations Bureau (RIB) has warned of much tougher sanctions to deal with activities that are degrading the environment and accelerating climate change.
The agency’s Secretary General Col Jeannot Ruhunga said Tuesday that human activity was leading contributor to climate change, and illegal mining emerges among the major ones.
Speaking at a crime prevention campaign in Rutsiro district, western province, Col Ruhunga said many illegal mines have collapsed this year alone killing 50 people and leaving 41 others with injuries.
In that district, 8 people were killed and 9 injured.
Col Ruhunga said some illegal miners are “protected” by powerful individuals, some of whom are government officials.
“Nobody is above the law,” he told thousands of locals attending. “There is no big or small fish. You cannot use your status to abuse the rights of many. Unless if we will be unable to get information. It is the reason we are conducting this sensitization campaign.”
There are already tough laws for environment crimes including a 10-year jail if found guilty.
In 2017, police arrested 513 people over environment crimes like cutting forests and burning charcoal – with 231 of the suspects prosecuted.
Last year, the figures went down slightly but remain high at nearly 400 arrested and prosecuted.