One of the fundamental rights of every child is the right to care and protection. Thus, it is unlawful for parents to refuse to provide care in form of shelter, food, medical treatment and other needs. The punishment for refusing care to a child, according to article 226 of the Penal Code of Rwanda, is “a term of imprisonment of at least two (2) months but less than six (6) months and a fine of fifty thousand (50,000) to three hundred thousand (300,000) Rwandan francs.”
Further still, the Penal Code outlaws neglecting a child without a reasonable cause. If the abandonment results in the compromise of a child’s health, security and living conditions, article 227 of the Penal Code prescribes a minimum punishment of a term of imprisonment of two months. The same punishment goes for parents who, through ill treatment drunkenness and misconduct, put their children’s education at risk.
If the cause for abandonment of a child is because that child is a boy or a girl, of if the child is harassed for being a boy or a girl, the offender is “liable to a term of imprisonment of at least three (3) months but less than six (6) months and a fine of three hundred thousand (300,000) to one million (1,000,000) Rwandan francs.” This is according to article 228 of the Penal Code of Rwanda.
The punishment for abandoning a child is more severe if the child is left in an open place. The minimum punishment, according to article 231 of the Penal Code, is a term of imprisonment of two years. However, if the child is abandoned in an isolated place, the term of imprisonment carries a maximum period of seven years.
There are some instances when neglecting or abandoning a child results in disability, death or disappearance. In case of permanent disability, the offender shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of seven to ten years. If their child dies or disappears due to abandonment, the penalty is life imprisonment. This is according to article 232 of the Penal Code.
Encouraging or inciting someone to abandon a child is also criminal. This is according to article 233 of the Penal Code. As such, any person who “incites one or both parents to abandon a child, whether born or to be born” or “agrees with one or both expecting parents to abandon their child to be born” is punishable by law.
If the child is indeed abandoned after incitement, the offender shall be “liable to a term of imprisonment of six (6) months to two (2) years and a fine of five hundred thousand (500,000) to three million (3,000,000) Rwandan francs or one of these penalties.”