Vice Speaker of the Lower Chamber of Parliament Denis Polisi has downplayed fears that Article 13 of the genocide ideology bill would fail efforts to curb the vice.
The bill, which has already been passed by the Chamber of Deputies and will be tabled soon in the Senate, seeks to punish people with genocide ideology-related crimes.
Article 13 of the bill subjects a person that will wrongfully accuse someone of habouring genocide ideology to serve half the punishment of the sentence the accused would have served on conviction.
According to the bill, any person convicted of habouring the ideology shall be sentenced to an imprisonment of ten to twenty-five years and a fine ranging between Frw200, 000 and Frw1 million.
“The proposed article is meant to protect all, not specific groups of people,” Polisi said on Wednesday.
Polisi (right) was reacting to claims by some MPs that the article would jeopardize the fight against genocide ideology.
Some lawmakers opposed the article and proposed it be omitted from the bill. The controversy was ignited by the fact that it is always difficult to adduce evidence to convict such a person who is accused of harbouring genocide ideology.
Lawmakers had also argued that the article presents a loophole in the much deserved law to punish all those with genocide ideology in the country.
But Polisi insisted: “I support the article; it will not be erased from the bill because it is criminal to wrongfully accuse any person.”
“Justice is evidence-based; thus judges, prosecutors and inspectors have to prove beyond reasonable doubt before someone is convicted that the accused is indeed guilty.”
He explained that judges have got their own methods and rules of procedure and any person reported to harbour genocide ideology would be dealt with according to the law.
Polisi said that MPs opposed to the article should give it a wider perspective since the bill, if approved by the relevant organs, is meant to protect Rwandans from genocide.
“It is a law that would save our society today and in future. That’s why it should tackle both sides,” he added.
The bill stipulates that any person found guilty of the crime of genocide ideology or commits recidivism shall be sentenced to life imprisonment.
It also proposes that an association, a political organisation or a non-profit making organisation found guilty of promoting the ideology shall be dissolved and fined up to Frw5 million.