Effective next week, prosecution will start a pilot phase on how suspects can enter a plea bargain. The pilot phase will begin in five intermediate courts and with a particular focus on two main crimes of assault and theft. Prosecution has issued guidelines on how to initiate and enter a plea bargain. Speaking to The New Times, The Prosecutor General, Aimable Havugiyaremye, said that plea bargain is already provided by the law but has not been fully exploited. “Next week, we are starting the pilot phase working together with courts so that prosecutors and judges can get used to it. However, this procedure of plea bargaining has been in force since the coming into force of the law on criminal procedure in 2019. The guidelines are meant to help prosecutors implement how it is applied for and the requirements,” he said. He added that the advantages that come with the plea bargain include proper understanding of how a crime was committed and reducing the case backlog in courts, since suspects who apply for a plea bargain may spend less time on trial or even secure bail. “To avoid any abuse of these mechanisms, prosecutors will have to first channel the plea bargain through their superiors to assess its effectiveness,” said the chief prosecutor. In coming up with the guidelines, prosecution worked with several concerned parties including the Bar Association According to the president of the Bar Association, Moise Nkundabarashi, lawyers play a big role in plea bargains as they assess the cases and advise their clients accordingly. “There are times when a lawyer finds overwhelming evidence and advises his or her client to enter a plea. This is very beneficial as it helps the suspect to negotiate a reduced sentence,” said Nkundabarashi, adding that there is already a team of lawyers undergoing training on how to apply for a plea bargain. Although the pilot phase targets five courts and two crimes, as per the criminal procedure code, anyone can enter a plea bargain from anywhere in the country and on any crime.