Lawmakers want criminal liability age lowered

PARLIAMENT - Members of Parliament have passed a draft Penal Code which would have the criminal liability for minors reduced from 14 to 12 years. The draft law is one of the numerous new laws in the penal code that has been approved by the Chamber of Deputies.

PARLIAMENT - Members of Parliament have passed a draft Penal Code which would have the criminal liability for minors reduced from 14 to 12 years. The draft law is one of the numerous new laws in the penal code that has been approved by the Chamber of Deputies.

The reduction is in conformity with the criminal procedural code, which stipulates that children are criminally liable at the age of twelve years.

Other new laws in the draft include offences of Genocide ideologies, human trafficking, publication of seditious materials, marital rape, attempted suicide and unnatural offences such as bestiality, child prostitution and child intoxication.

Environmental degradation, infringement of intellectual property rights, torture, engaging in illegal foreign exchange trade, misuse of public office and embezzlement charges not restricted to public servants are also included.

Justice minister Tharcisse Karugarama said the draft Penal Code also envisages new penal punishments that were not provided for in the current law such as community service as an alternative penalty to imprisonment (TIG) to other crimes and life imprisonment with special provisions.

“Under this arrangement, offenders will also participate in community service.
It is unique in that its impact and results are very recognizable by society,” Karugarama said.  He said the move has been done to ensure the rule of law and prevalence of human rights in the country as enshrined in the Constitution and urged parliamentarians to support the draft penal law.

In the new draft law, a convict can be stripped off the right to issue a cheque or deal in credit cards, participate in government tendering process, or deal with banks.
The person can also be subject to travel bans which were not provided for in the current penal law.

MP Emmanuel Mugabowindekwe said that the new provisions in the Penal Code are good for the people especially those whose rights have continued to be violated.
Deputy Faith Mukakalisa proposed the inclusion of witchcraft in the Penal Code, saying it would reduce on the crimes committed using witchcraft especially in rural areas.

The lawmakers said that the problem of prostitution and homosexuality are on the increase and called for stringent measures to protect the masses from such behaviours.
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