President Paul Kagame has called on Rwandans, especially women in decision making positions, to use the tools availed to them to put an end to the increasing number of sexual violence cases.
Speaking at the official opening of the 2018/2019 Judicial Year at parliament Friday, Kagame said that while the solution to the persistent issue of sexual violence concerns both women and men, the former had, unlike in the past, been equipped with the opportunity to take action on issues that directly affect females.
“Adding the number of women in these institutions should help in fixing these issues. If there are specific problems that concern girls and women, they should use all the tools available to make a difference. This does not mean that men should feel that this does not concern them because this works better if both men and women work together,” he said.
PHOTO: “The prosperity we all want must be founded on respecting the law. Our judiciary has an important role to play in ensuring every institutions fulfills their role.” President Kagame presides over the Judicial Year 2018/2019 Launch. To view photos https://t.co/wvl803aeYu pic.twitter.com/at0fzoZXt1— Presidency | Rwanda (@UrugwiroVillage) October 19, 2018
The Head of State pointed out that sexual violence should not happen at all and it should not be affecting one side of the gender divide, adding that there was need to completely stamp out the issue.
Parliament currently has 61 per cent women while the new cabinet named on Thursday has 50 per cent women.
Mediation is key
Kagame called for more efforts to prioritise mediation rather than addressing all disputes through the courts adding that it was a specific way of fixing problems that dates back to the country’s history.
“Mediation is a good culture that we should promote and modernise to move with the time. Gacaca courts showed us that discussing issues and coming to an understanding is a good way of fixing them,” he said.
He, however, pointed out that issues like sexual violence and corruption should not be brought into mediation because of their nature.
Chief Justice Prof. Sam Rugege said that in the 2017/18 Judicial Year, the courts received 63,360 cases, which represents a 10.7 per cent increase from those registered the previous year.
Though the number of cases filed increased, the number of cases that were resolved also increased from 67,992 in 2016/2017 to 73682 in 2017/2018, an 8 percent improvement.
Today President Kagame presides over the opening of the 2018/19 Judicial Year. The event gathers over 600 participants including judges, prosecutors, registrars, and courts administration personnel. #Rwanda pic.twitter.com/rdE4coGMXw— Government of Rwanda (@RwandaGov) October 19, 2018
Currently, the number of cases in courts stands at 24,783.
He also touched on the issue of drugs and sexual violence, which he said was an issue that should worry the community.
Rugege said in the last three years alone, 9,344 people had been convicted of abusing or selling drugs. Of these, six children were below 14, 1135 were between 15 and 24, while 5,605 are between 25 and 39.
“This means that more than 72 per cent of those convicted of this crime are not even 40 years old. The number increases annually, having risen from 1030 in 2016/2017 to 4199 this year,” he said.
The Prosecutor General, Jean Bosco Mutangana, said that last year, 26,991 cases were tried and, among them, 24, 852 were won by prosecution.
Referring to the crimes committed during the Genocide against the Tutsi, Mutangana pointed out that prosecution had sent 218 files to other countries for follow up, while four suspects were tried and sentenced to life in jail in Sweden and the other three in France.
He also said that 46 witnesses had been facilitated to travel to France to testify in the cases.
Mutangana added that last year prosecution worked with members from justice departments from six countries to follow up 19 files that had been sent to the said countries.