Civil society has raised alarm over the low rate at which perpetrators of sexual violence against minors get investigated, prosecuted and convicted. Statistics from the National Public Prosecution Authority(NPPA) show that for the last 5 years (between 2017 to 2022), 20,095 child defilement case files were handled by the prosecution, yet out of this number, only 11,856 case files (representing 58.9%) were filed in courts. A staggering 8,104 case files (representing 40.3%) were dropped at the prosecution level. At the court level, out of the 11,856 case files that were presented, only 9,350 cases (representing 78.8 per cent) have been decided by the judges, while more than 20 percent are still awaiting verdicts. The prosecutors have won just 6,615 cases out of the 9,350 decided cases (representing 70.7 per cent), a number which is below the 85 percent conviction rate targeted by the NPPA. Africa Frédéric, an Inspector at NPPA, in a media interview, said the prosecutors are faced by a number of challenges in regard to getting enough evidence in SGBV cases, partly due to the fact that some victims do not want to share detailed information about what happened to them. “What is lacking, I think, is enough citizens’ awareness of their rights. They don’t need to fear to say what happened to them,” he said. “The prosecution is winning less cases because of limited evidence. Sometimes victims conceal some information and share it after a long time when it is hard to put the evidence together,” he added. The Center for Rule of Law (CERULA), a non-government organisation that works to promote the rule of law in Rwanda, decried the “huge mismatch” between the investigated cases and those that get prosecuted, yet Sexual gender based violence(SGBV) cases have been on the increase. “Despite the fact that Rwanda has an enabling legal, policy and institutional framework to prevent SGBV, CERULAR is concerned that the number of cases for SGBV continue to rise and the perpetrators are not adequately held accountable,” read a statement from the NGO. “CERULAR is concerned that this does not only amount to impunity, but also a set back towards the rule of law, which also erodes the deterrence effect of punishing perpetrators as a strategy to reducing the rate of SGBV,” it went on. John Mudakikwa, the Executive Director at CERULA warned that if such crimes are not tried and the perpetrators get punished, it can make the society think that these are light crimes, yet they are really big. According to the law, child defilement is punishable by 20 to 25 years of imprisonment and life imprisonment if defilement is committed against a child under 14 years or if it is followed by cohabitation. Rape is generally punishable by 10 to 15 years of imprisonment and fines worth between Rwf 1 to 2 million. According to CERULA, some of the causes for inadequate prosecution and conviction of the perpetrators of SGBV include inadequate reporting of SGBV cases, where victims, their family members, community members and even sometimes local leaders are reluctant to promptly report cases of SGBV. “In some cases, where victims report cases of SGBV, they lie about the identity of the perpetrators,” reads a statement from the NGO. Also, the NGO cited poor preservation of evidence by victims, which this results into lack of sufficient compelling evidence to incriminate the suspects, “The majority of cases are dropped at both the investigation and prosecution level due to lack of compelling evidence beyond reasonable doubt, to adduce before courts of law,” their statement read.