The proposed amendments to an article on abortion in the draft penal code, was yesterday sent back to the commission in charge due to the long jail sentences suggested.
During the Senate’s plenary session, the Minister of Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama, opposed the long jail sentences calling them ‘counterproductive’.
“There is need to think twice about the long sentences because studies have labelled them counterproductive,” said the minister, adding that punishment for abortion should be thought along the lines of fines and alternative public service.
Karugarama’s comment came after the commission’s reviewed the article, which proposed a jail sentence of between five and fifteen years for any woman found guilty of carrying out an abortion.
The current penal code prescribes a prison sentence of five-10 years for a person convicted of abortion.
Karugarama also remarked that long sentences are a liability to government since convicts are catered for and yet they are unproductive.
He warned that imprisoning a young girl who has had an abortion, would only worsen matters.
“The girl who decides to abort is already undergoing a mental crisis; so imprisoning her would not help her get any better,” he said.
Responding to the minister’s observation, Senate President, Dr. Vincent Biruta, decided that the law be taken back to the commission for more scrutiny and to give the minister enough time to enter his views.
“Though the amendment has been delayed, we cannot afford to move on with such prominent issues unresolved. Let us give the commission another chance to review those harsh elements in the article,” said Biruta, before calling off the house’s business.
The 33–year old penal code is being revised for the first time.
The penal code will incorporate new crimes and legal remedies that were not previously catered for.
These include; cyber crimes, human trafficking, environment, marital rape, environmental degradation, child prostitution, Genocide ideology, discrimination and sectarianism, piracy and money laundering, among others.