Circumstances under which crime isn’t punished

Although crime is punishable by law, there are circumstances under which a person who has committed a crime is not persecuted. These circumstances are clarified in Law Nº68/2018 of 30/08/2018 Determining Offences and Penalties in General.

Children under the age of 14 and people who were insane during commission of offense are exempted from criminal liability under article 85 of the Law Determining Offences and Penalties in General. However, if someone deliberately deprives him/herself of sanity while they commit a crime, they are liable to punishment. For example, if someone abuses alcohol or drugs and as a result they commit a crime, they have to face punishment.

Article 86 of the Law Determining Offences and Penalties in General exempts from punishment a person who commits a crime under force or duress if he/she cannot resist. A person who follows the orders of someone in authority is also exempted from punishment unless it’s clear that such an act is unlawful. Exemption from criminal liability also extends to a person who commits a crime as a result misinterpreting a law or a fact if the misinterpretation removes intention to commit a crime.

Another act that results in non-criminal liability, according to article 86 of the Law Determining Offences and Penalties in General, is self-defense. This includes fighting off thieves and other wrongdoers, acting in self-defense or defending another person in danger, and fending off any person who breaks into an inhabited place or enters by trickery.

Law Nº68/2018 of 30/08/2018 Determining Offences and Penalties in General also exempts from criminal liability anyone who acts to protect property from damage.

However, an act is only considered as self-defense if the means used are proportional to the gravity of the threat. For example, if a person is under the threat of being slapped and they respond by firing a gunshot, this might be considered an extreme measure.

Article 87 of the Law Nº68/2018 of 30/08/2018 Determining Offences and Penalties in General determines the way non-criminal liability works. It says that exemption does not apply to co-offenders and accomplices. Additionally, article 87 says that noncriminal liability does not always result in non-civil liability.

Civil liability, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, is “the legal responsibility of paying money for damage to another person’s health, business or property.” For example, a child below 14 may not be imprisoned for damaging property but his/her parents may be required to pay for repairs.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw