A look at 5 laws that remain unenforced

A look at 5 laws that remain unenforced
A look at 5 laws that remain unenforced

Africa-Press – Rwanda. Ideally, laws are initiated and enacted to help address existing problems with a view to improve the welfare of the people and the country’s life in general. As such, lack or delay in implementing such legislations has a direct impact on the population.

Some laws enacted in Rwanda have for years not been applied mainly because they lack enforcement instructions. Below we look at five such laws and the impact the situation is having on the community.

Law establishing medical professional liability insurance

The law was published in the Official Gazette of January 22, 2013. It would enable the existence of insurance that would cover the medical harm caused by doctors or health professionals (at health facilities), and the payment of due compensation for damages inflicted to the victims (patients).

But, nine years have elapsed so far and such an insurance has not been put in place.

Its application required the determination of fees that should be covered by a health institution, how much the medical professionals would contribute, and the risks involved in the medical profession.

Under article 22, the law provides for the establishment of the Committees for conciliation and compensation (at both district and national level) for health risks.

It stipulates that an Order of the Minister in charge of health shall determine the composition, organisation and functioning of these Committees.

The ministerial order would also set up a platform to determine the magnitude of the problem, and the due compensation for damages inflicted to the victim.

Jean Damascene Gasherebuka, the CEO of the Rwanda Allied Health Professions Council (RAHPC) told The New Times that currently, if a health professional is involved in a medical malpractice and the victim files for compensation, that professional will be in trouble because the law that should protect them is not in force.

“If health professionals have insurance, they will not fear to commit to treat patients with complex cases. But once you realise that a case is complicated and you do not have an insurance cover in case something goes wrong, then you might avoid taking that risk,” he said, indicating that it can hinder effective healthcare provision.

“This law should be implemented,” he appealed.

The New Times

contacted the Ministry of Health to know why such an implementing ministerial order has not yet been published but was referred to the finance ministry which has oversight on all matters insurance.

The law regulating labour in Rwanda (minimum wage provision)

Another delay is in the law of 2018 regulating labour in Rwanda. Its article 68 which provides for the establishment of a minimum wage is not implemented thus far.

According to the provision, a ministerial order from the ministry in charge of labour would determine the minimum wage, based on categories of occupations.

This means that, for instance, the minimum wage for the construction sector workers would be different from that of the workers in the health sector, media and communication, transportation, manufacturing among others.

Africain Biraboneye, General Secretary Rwanda Workers’ Trade Union Confederation (CESTRAR) told The New Times that the lack of the implementation of this provision makes the enforcement of the law incomplete.

He pointed out that the minimum wage is in line with social protection meant to protect the rights and welfare of the worker by ensuring that the least possible pay for their efforts is guaranteed.

“Such a minimum wage is calculated based on the basic necessities for one to be able to maintain a normal standard of living. Its absence results in situations where employees are exploited,” he said.

The Ministry of Public Service and Labour could not be reached for comment.

Law relating to child protection (three ministerial orders)

On October 13, 2021, the Chamber of Deputies requested the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion to expedite the establishment of three ministerial orders that would help implement some provisions of the 2018 law relating to the protection of the child.

They include an order determining modalities for the creation of social welfare institutions, requirements to be met by those institutions and modalities for their supervision, and the order determining the modalities for placement in a foster family.

Another one is the Order determining modalities by which a child infected or affected by an incurable disease benefits from special protection and assistance from the government.

According to this law, a child is placed in a social welfare institution if he/she is deprived of his/her parents and has not yet found a foster family; he/she is born in prison and at three years of age none of his/her relatives has accepted to receive him/her.

According to the Prime Minister’s Instructions governing modalities and period for publication of implementing legal instruments, which were issued in 2013, any public institution initiating a draft law shall concurrently prepare its implementing legal instrument, if any, and ensure its publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Rwanda within two months following the commencement of the concerned law.

But, the abovementioned ministerial orders have not yet been published, about four years after the publication of the law in the Official Gazette.

Law on criminal procedure (monitoring a suspect through technology)

This law was enacted in 2019. Under its article 70, it provided for monitoring a suspect through technology [such by using electronic devices like bracelets, watches, and ankle monitors, depending on such considerations as the seriousness of the crime and weight of evidence].

With this arrangement, suspects may be required to wear electronic devices that enable law enforcement organs to monitor them, instead of being put under provisional detention.

The move could help decongest correctional facilities in the country, according to Government officials, MPs and lawyers.

But, this system has not yet been rolled out because an Order of the Minister in charge of justice that would determine the modalities through which a suspect may be monitored through technology, has not yet been published in the Official Gazette.

The National Commission for Human Rights’ 2020-2021 annual report indicated that the number of inmates increased by 30.1 percent from 58,230 in 2017 to 76,099 in 2021.

Also, the report showed, congestion in correctional facilities remains high. On average, the congestion rate in the 14 prisons in the country was at 124.1 percent. This means that the number of inmates they accommodated were 24.1 percent higher than the number they should accommodate based on their capacity.

Law determining the organisation and use of cemeteries (cremation provision)

This law, which was enacted in 2013, provides, among other things, that cremation is one of the accepted inhumation ways. But, it has turned out that Rwandans have been burying bodies of their loved ones in tombs or cemeteries, not burning them.

In November last year, the Minister of Local Government, Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi told Parliament that Rwandans have not yet adopted cremation as a way of burial.

Some members of Parliament concurred with the Minister then that cremation was seen as a one of the solutions to the scare land in Rwanda, expressing worries that some cemeteries such as Rusororo – the major one in Kigali – are about to be full and it would be costly for the Government to find other specific places for burial.

Meanwhile, Gatabazi attributed the lack of incinerators (cremation facilities) to the absence of investor appetite for venturing into them, largely because Rwandans have resisted the burning of their loved ones’ bodies.

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