The right to liberty

Article 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda says that every person has the right to liberty. They can go wherever they want. They have a right to leave a place when they want to. They can be around the people they want to be around, as long as it is lawful and does not infringe on the rights of other people.

Consequently, no one has the authority to prosecute, arrest, detain or punish someone unless they are doing so in accordance with laws related to a crime that has been committed.

Anything outside of that is considered as kidnapping and unlawful detention and it is punishable under the Penal Code of Rwanda.

Article 273 of the penal Code says; “Any person who, by violence, deception  or threats, kidnaps or causes to be kidnapped, arrests or causes to be arrested, detains or causes confinement of a person shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of  two (2) years to five (5) years.”

If the person who has been kidnapped is a child, the culprit receives the maximum penalty. If the unlawful confinement or detention goes beyond one month, the maximum jail period is increased by two years. Those who provide a place for confinement do not go scot-free. They receive the same term of imprisonment as the ones who did the kidnapping.

A person who kidnaps or confines someone with intent to live together as wife and husband is also punishable under the Penal Code of Rwanda. Article 24 of the law stipulates imprisonment of one to three years for the perpetrator, and a fine of fifty thousand to two hundred thousand Rwandan francs.

However, the punishment for living or attempting to live together with a child as husband and wife is much heavier. Under article 194 of the Penal Code, the offender receives the same punishment as a person who has defiled a child. The punishment is life in prison.

Another form of infringement on liberty is forcing a person to marry or not to a partner of his/her choice. That is why article 195 of the Penal Code of Rwanda prohibits participation in early or forced marriage of children. Any person who participates in it is liable to a term of imprisonment of six months to two years and a fine of one hundred thousand to three hundred thousand Rwandan francs.  

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