Human life is precious. Because of this, there are many laws in place to protect people from harm, to preserve their lives. The protection of human life begins as soon as they are conceived. As such, losing a life is something that is taken seriously by the law and there are heavy punishments for crimes related to the death of a person.
However, suicide, the act of taking one’s own life is not punishable by law. This is according to Article 147 of N° 01/2012/OL of 02/05/2012 the Organic Law instituting the Penal Code. Logically, once a person is dead, it does not make sense to punish them. At the same time, most times when people commit suicide it is because they feel sad and desperate.
While suicide is not punishable, Article 147 of the Penal Code outlaws encouraginganother person to kill him/herself.
For example, there was a story of a girl whose boyfriend told her that he wanted to commit suicide. Instead of trying to talk him out of it, she told him to go ahead. While he was in the process of committing suicide, at some point he got scared and texted her telling her that he didn’t want to die. She encouraged him to continue with his plan to commit suicide. When he died, she was held responsible for encouraging him.
Article 147 of the Penal Code also says it is illegal to help someone to die. It doesn’t matter if a person pleads or if they suffering or if they are about to die. It is illegal to help them to take their own life. For example, if a very sick person pleads with a doctor to help him/her to die and the doctor complies, the doctor will have committed a crime.
The other aspect of participating in suicide, according to article 147 of ° 01/2012/OL of 02/05/2012 the Organic Law instituting the Penal Code is provoking another person to commit suicide “by inflicting persecution on him/her.”
Inflicting persecution on someone can be done indifferent ways. It can be through constant physical violence, denying them basic rights such as food, and generally making their lives difficult.
One of the commonest ways that children make their peers’ lives difficult is through bullying. This can be done byconsistently making fun of someone, taking their property or always humiliating them in public. This can make someone sad enough to want to end their life.
As par Article 147 of the Penal Code of Rwanda, any person who participates in someone’s suicide by encouraging them, helping them or provoking them is “liable to a term of imprisonment of two (2) years to five (5) years.”