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President sends draft criminal procedure bill back to parliament

MPs during a past plenary session at the Parliamentary Buildings in Kimihurura, Kigali. Sam Ngendahimana.

A total of seven articles in the draft law on Code of Criminal Procedure are scheduled to be tabled by the Parliamentary Committee on Political Affairs and Gender today for a review on the request of President Paul Kagame.

The draft law was initially passed by the Parliament before it was handed over to the President for his signature.


However, President Kagame urged for a revision of some of the articles, requesting Members of Parliament to consider scrapping some and rephrasing others.


The articles include article 240 relating to suspended sentences, article 204 regarding the language used in court, article 34 regarding witnesses’ failure to respond to court summons, among others.


For instance, Kagame requested Members of Parliament to consider scrapping article 34 regarding punishing witnesses who fail to respond to court summons since it is not provided for in the penal code.

Article 34 says, “A witness who has been penalised for failure to respond to court summons, and is summoned for the second time, but provides valid reasons for not showing up, can be pardoned from the penalties issued before”.

The Committee will also look into Article 204 regarding the language used in court. The draft states that, “The language of the court is Kinyarwanda. However, the court may conduct the hearing in any other official language of Rwanda. A party may plead in another language he/she understands well, provided that he/ she him/herself finds an interpreter at his/her own expense. In any case, the submissions to be filed to the court are in Kinyarwanda”.

President Kagame appealed to the MPs to look into how the suggestion that the party would have to find their own interpreter can be scrapped and instead replaced with the party’s freedom to plead their case in any language of their choice and the responsibility of finding a translator be the court’s. 

MP Frank Habineza explained that the adjustments requested by the President are not unusual since they are provided for by the law.

“Well, its normal for the President to ask for a second reading of the law before he finally signs it off ahead of promulgation in the official gazette. This could be because he may wish to correct or put in order some articles as approved by the Parliament,” he said.


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