Any person attempting to commit suicide but survives will be liable to a prison sentence of two to five years.
According to lawmakers, failed suicide is categorised as attempted murder.
Article 162 of the penal code, which was passed by the Senate, indicates that suicide is not punishable, however, the same article adds in its next paragraph that any person who tries to commit suicide but fails, due to circumstances beyond his or her control, shall be liable to imprisonment between two to five years.
Although the article was passed by the majority of Senators, Agnes Kayijire expressed her reservations over the article claiming that it was not in order to charge someone who attempts to take his or her life.
“There is contradiction in this article, I don’t understand how someone survives suicide and then that person is charged. There should be a special way to treat this person,” said Kayijire.
In an interview with The New Times, Dr. Joseph Iyakaremye, a social psychologist, who is also a lecturer at Kigali Institute of Education (KHI) said that a jail sentence may not make any impact on suicide survivors since that person has already taken extreme measures.
“The best way to handle a suicide survivor is to give that person special care and take him or her to a therapist. The person who attempts suicide is no longer thinking straight,” said Iyakaremye.
In his legal interpretation, the Minister of Justice Tharcisse Karugarama defended article 162 sustaining the augment that suicide is closely related to attempted murder.
“Globally, suicide is interpreted as not just someone killing himself but killing a human being. Someone who attempts to kill himself has a problem mentally, physiologically and otherwise; that is why the sentence is so light, you can’t keep that person in prison for so long,” said Karugarama.
“Normally, the judge may instruct the testing of the mental stability of the survivor. These details are stated in the criminal procedure code.”
Meanwhile, the 674-article penal code is in its final stages in the senate, where senators are expected to approve the proposed amendments.