Tougher laws on defilement in the pipeline

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Tougher laws on defilement in the pipeline
Tougher laws on defilement in the pipeline

Africa-PressRwanda. The Ministry of Justice is drafting a law to make defilement cases imprescriptible, The New Times has learnt. Imprescriptible crimes are crimes without a statutory limitation.

In Rwanda, they are only two: the crime of Genocide against the Tutsi and corruption. Others are revoked after ten years for felonies, three years for misdemeanors and one year for petty offences.

The development was confirmed to The New Times by one of the senior government official in the Ministry of Justice. The official said that the law is being drafted by the ministry, but did not want to divulge more details as it is still in its preliminary phase.

Amidst the growing number of defilement cases, the move will find in other developments that are also still in the pipeline. These include creating the sex offenders’ registry, and trying suspected sex offenders in public. Figures indicate that 12,840 defilement cases in the last three years were filed to the Rwanda Investigation Bureau.

The move should be speeded up

The development, for the activists, is quite commendable, but more efforts are needed to speed up the development. Contacted for a comment, Sylvie Nsanga, a woman rights activist said that this is a big win to create a society free of child abuse.

“This will contain the crime from all the sides, because some perpetrators used to flee after being reported, but that won’t happen again after this law is in place,” she noted. On her part, Annet Mukiga, another activist also hails the initiative, but asks for more efforts to speed it up.

“This is a commendable legal move, but to be efficient, it should be speeded up and implemented as soon as possible, because as we wait for longer legal procedures, people are being affected down there in the village,” he said.

Mukiga also highlighted some of the reasons why the law was needed: “Reporting and speaking about rape and defilement cases is not easy for the victims, it requires counselling and healing before having the energy to speak out,” she said.

Hence, she continues, “Some girls were taking too long to report and by the time they are healed and counseled to be able to speak, the crime is no longer valid, but this is not going to be the case again,” she added.

Current figures from the Ministry of Health indicate that 17,849 teen pregnancies were recorded in 2016 and scaled up to 17,337 in 2017. The figures also increased to 19,832 in 2018 and reached 23,628 in 2019 but slightly dropped in 2020 to 19,701 cases.

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