After spending close to a year amending the penal code, it has emerged that the Senate approved it with some key provisions left out.
This comes after some Members of Parliament forwarded a proposal to have punitive measures mentioned in the access to information bill embedded in the penal code.
Although the proposal was made before the approval of the penal code, Senators allegedly ignored it and went ahead to seal the document.
Addressing journalists yesterday, the vice president of the Senate, Marie Mukantabana, who also chaired the senatorial special committee that worked on the amendments of the penal code, said that it was an oversight for the Senate not to consider the proposal.
“There is still room for amendment, the Penal Code is going back to the lower chamber of parliament as the law stipulates.
If the lower chamber is not satisfied with our proposed amendments, a joint committee made up of senators and MPs will be set up to clean up the document,” said Mukantabana.
Article 34 of the Access to Information Bill states that, any public official who refuses to release public information shall be liable, before the office of the Ombudsman, to a fine ranging from Rwf 100,000 to Rwf 300,000 and, before a court, to a fine ranging from Rwf 100,000 to Rwf 500,000.
It adds; "In case of recidivism, a person who has previously been convicted of an offence under this Article shall be liable to a fine ranging from Rwf 1,000,000 to Rwf 2,000,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or both".
The same fine and a jail sentence will be invoked against any person who confiscates information and does so intending to prevent the disclosure in accordance with the requirements of the law.
Mukantabana, however, added that when the Senate was amending the Penal Code, it made sure that to look at all existing laws and pending bills in parliament.
“If the measures mentioned in the access to information bill weren’t among those that we considered, then a joint ad hoc committee will have to consider that,” she added.