Thousands of defilement cases that the National Public Prosecution Authority receives are not taken to courts for trial and offenders are not punished, largely because they lack evidence, the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR)’ report has revealed. The Commission’s activity report for the fiscal year 2021-2022 was presented to Parliament (both Chambers) by Marie-Claire Mukasine, the Chairperson of NCHR. It showed that in 2020-2021, the National Public prosecution Authority (NPPA) received 5,278 cases of sex-based violence committed against children (aged below 18 years), but 2,271 or 43 per cent of the total, were not taken to courts. The report indicated that challenges that lead to the prosecution not moving ahead to lodge the cases in courts, are largely related to lack of evidence. It explained that such a lack of evidence is caused by factors including the absence of birth certificates for the victims who are not registered in the civil registries; victims who cover up for the offenders because it is the latter who are supporting their livelihoods. Other reasons are that the victims do not protect the evidence, and the delay in reporting the violence which results in distortion of facts. Apart from the analysis of cases received by the prosecution, the Commission said it also analysed the cases it filed in courts to know about their judgments. The review showed that of 2,178 defilement cases for which courts delivered verdicts, the prosecution lost 735 (33.7 per cent), mainly because of lack of evidence against the suspects. These data imply that the defilement conviction rate was at 66.3 per cent. The Commission urged greater action against defilement. “The recommendation that we are forwarding to the Ministry of Justice is to continue building residents’ awareness about the legal provisions about sex-based violence, preserving evidence for the victims, shunning away from covering up their offenders, and filing cases for compensations,” Mukasine said. MP Germaine Mukabalisa said expressed dissatisfaction over the fact that many of the sex-based violence against children do not make it to courts. As one of the underlying factors for this problem is people who cover up the suspects, Mukabalisa wanted to know whether any of them were prosecuted for that whitewashing act because concealing incrementing facts about a suspect is a crime. It is time that those [people who cover up the suspects] get prosecuted, and I want to see in next year's report the number of those who will have been brought to book for this crime, she said. MP Euthalie Nyirabega called for preservation of evidence, including in health care facilities where the victims receive treatment, as one of the attempts to tackle the issue of defilement cases that are not taken to courts, or are lost because there is no evidence. Meanwhile, she expressed endorsement to naming and shaming defilement culprits to serve as crime deterrence among the public, so that it becomes 'a taboo' in Rwanda. Senator Innocent Nkurunziza said that there is a need for another approach to ensure that the rights of the child who fell victims of sex-based violence are protected in a comprehensive manner. This is an issue of concern for many people, for which we are trying to find a solution together, he said.