• Tough penalties for offenders
PARLIAMENT - A group of legislators Wednesday initiated a bill that will govern the burial, memorial sites and cemeteries of Genocide victims.
The MPs, all on the parliament’s special committee on unity, human rights and the fight against genocide, urged for legislation to maintain and fight against the desecration of memorial sites of victims of the 1994 Genocide of Tutsi.
Evariste Kalisa, the head of the committee, explained that the bill was necessary because memorial sites were grossly mismanaged, with their maintenance left entirely to Genocide survivors. He added that most remains of victims had deteriorated due to lack of proper preservation.
During a 2006 country-wide tour of the sites, the same MPs reportedly uncovered a serious lack in proper planning of the burial of Genocide victims.
Last month the MPs held a consultative meeting on how the above scenario could be averted and legislation put in place.
The meeting, which was attended by various relevant government sectors and civil society organisations, called for the speeding up of the bill.
The bill proposes that anyone who deliberately destroys Genocide remains risks 10-20 years in prison and a Frw500,000–2,000,000 fine.
Article 20 specifies that demolishing memorial sites and cemeteries is punishable by a life sentence and a fine of Frw1-5 million, while theft of the remains stands at 10- 20 years in prison and a fine of between Frw500,000-2 million.
Reacting to Article 5 on the role of the local administration, Donatilla Mukabalisa stressed that the problem should have been solved long ago. Most MPs agreed that the law was long overdue, and extolled the team’s efforts on the project.
There have been government efforts in the past to get to the bottom of the predicament.
A March 18 Cabinet meeting approved the policy of commemoration. Consequently, among other things, this policy paved way for the establishment of a law that governs and protects memorial sites and cemeteries of Genocide victims.
A programme for the burial of Genocide victims’ remains is already in place and memorial sites and cemeteries have been established country-wide solely to safeguard the Genocide history.
The current legislators’ efforts come just a day after parliament called upon Protais Musoni, the Local Government minister, to explain the disquieting prevalence of genocide ideology, unearthed by parliament, in the country’s schools.
Although MPs accepted the minister’s explanations, those who talked to The New Times after the session expressed apprehension over MINALOC’s ability to contain the situation on its own.
They advocated for more efforts, especially combined government efforts to deal with the problem.
Most legislators were optimistic that the upcoming legislation will significantly help in dealing with it.