On June 11th 2015, the Rwanda National Police (RNP) officially launched a special unit charged with protecting the environment, as a dynamic initiative towards ensuring sustainable development and supporting green growth of the country. The launch event was organized during the National Police Week from June 9th-16th 2015 in the Police headquarters in Kacyiru, Kigali City.
Prior to the official ceremony, a 3-day training on environmental crimes, relevant laws, and international protocols was provided to 193 Community Policing Committees and 103 youth volunteers by different experts in Environment and Natural Resources. The ceremony began with a campaign walk in which the trainees and other officials marched from a Kacyiru Bus station behind the Ministry of Education to the National Police headquarters, holding a banner reading “Turwanye ibyaha byibasira ibidukikije- Dufatanyije Birashoboka" translated as “Prevention and Response to Environmental Crimes- Together We Can".
United Nations Resident Coordinator, Minister of Natural Resources, Inspector General of Police (IGP), and Director General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority attended the event commending the innovative commitment of the National Police to Rwanda’s sustainable development and green growth.
In his welcome remarks, the IGP of National Police, Mr. Emmanuel K. Gasana, thanked the stakeholders who contributed to the creation of this special unit. He underscored the importance of the unit in the prevention and investigation of environmental crimes.
The Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Biruta, stated that “environmental crimes have frequently ranked low on the law enforcement priority list, they are often less known than other crimes yet they impose a security and safety threat to development. If not checked, such actions hinder our committed pathway to sustainable economic growth”.
UNDP has supported the establishment of the Environmental Protection Unit (EPU) under the new programme titled “Support to the Development and Implementation of a Green Growth and Economy Approach to Rwanda’s Economic Transformation”. Commencing in 2015, the programme aims to support Rwanda in its efforts to pursue a sustainable economy by reducing financial costs through going “green” and exploiting new “green” economic opportunities. The creation of EPU is contributing to intensive and active participation of the RNP in the implementation of the green growth economy.
According to the National Police, the Unit will protect the environment in all aspects including air space, forestry and biodiversity, with authority investigate all kinds of environmental related crimes and take appropriate legal action. The Unit will be operational in all districts, having liaison officers in every region. It will make spontaneous checks at porous borders, have periodical joint operations with park managers in national parks and conduct periodical trainings of police officers and game rangers on a series of environmental conservation and weapon handling modules.
“The role of RNP in environmental protection comprises not only law enforcement but also participation in the preservation of environment through environmental education, practical interpretation of the environmental laws to citizens and engaging in the public environment management awareness process,” Minister Biruta added.
In his congratulating remarks, the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Lamin Manneh, highlighted its solid partnership with the RNP. “Today, we are here to commend another remarkable advancement made by the Rwanda National Police. The launch of the Environmental Protection Unit has significant meanings to our daily lives... I have no doubt on the successful support the RNP is going to provide to the Natural Resources and Environmental Sector in preventing crimes and ensuring law enforcement.” Mr. Manneh noted.