“Water is life” is an accurate saying because there is no living thing that can survive without water. This makes access to water an important human need. But not just any water, clean water. In order to preserve the right to access to clean water, Article 388 of N° 01/2012/OL of 02/05/2012 the Organic Law instituting the Penal Code of Rwanda outlaws water pollution.
Article 388 paragraph one states: “Any person who pollutes inland waters by dumping, spilling or depositing chemicals of any nature into waters, that may cause or increase water pollution, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of six (6) months to two (2) years and a fine of two million (2,000,000) to five million (5,000,000) Rwandan francs, or one of these penalties.”
If water pollution results in an incurable disease of permanent disability, Article 388 paragraph two of the Organic Law instituting the Penal Code says that the offender shall receive a penalty of a term of imprisonment of ten to fifteen years and a fine of two to ten million Rwandan francs.
If a person who has previously been convicted of polluting water does it again, then the penalties in Article 388 mentioned above are doubled. The offender may also be ordered to rehabilitate or fund the rehabilitation of the water source that he/she polluted.
Article 389 of N° 01/2012/OL of 02/05/2012 the Organic Law instituting the Penal Code outlaws ”throwing, pouring, flowing or dumping into water a substance likely to harm health or environment.” The punishment for breaking this law is a term of imprisonment of one month to three months and a fine of five hundred thousand to five million Rwandan francs or one of the penalties.
The right to protection from polluted water also includes setting quality standards for individuals and companies that are in charge of supplyingwater.
To this end, Article 393 of the organic law instituting the Penal Code says, “Any person who owns or is delegated to provide water for human consumption that does not conform to the prescribed drinking water quality standards shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of one (1) year to three (3) years and a fine of one million (1,000,000) to five million (5,000,000) Rwandan francs.”
Another aspect of protection from polluted water is illegalizing fraudulent use or misuse of water. This is stated in Articles 394 and 395 of the organic law instituting the Penal Code. This is because fraudulent use of water or misuse thereof may involve the use of methods that pollute it.
Do not hesitate to report when you witness the pollution of water because it affects many people’s lives.