Draft law on genocide ideology heads to Senate

Members of Parliament on Monday passed the Bill on Genocide Ideology, but demanded that it is enriched to include criminalising orchestration of the Genocide among its articles, before it is finally passed by the Senate.
MP Gideon Kayinamura said even after it is passed, the law alone will not curb Genocide ideology. He advised that there be continuous advocacy, education, and awareness campaigns, to c....
MP Gideon Kayinamura said even after it is passed, the law alone will not curb Genocide ideology. He advised that there be continuous advocacy, education, and awareness campaigns, to c....

Members of Parliament on Monday passed the Bill on Genocide Ideology, but demanded that it is enriched to include criminalising orchestration of the Genocide among its articles, before it is finally passed by the Senate.

While discussing the Bill after it was returned to the Plenary by the Standing Committee on Unity, Human Rights and Fight against Genocide, some legislators said a clause calling for wide-scale education and advocacy on the crime of Genocide was necessary.

“Even as we are about to pass this Bill, the law itself will not curb Genocide ideology and related offences in the country. Instead, we should request continuous advocacy, education, and sensitisation, so that Rwandans understand that this is an extreme crime against humanity,” MP Gideon Kayinamura said, adding that a clause to this effect is included in the draft law.

However, committee chairperson MP François Byabarumwanzi told the House that such a clause would not be necessary.

“We don’t think it is important to insert a clause on advocacy or education in genocide ideology law; these are issues embedded in the country’s general policy. Even in the key pillars of governance, all institutions; including Parliament, and others, we all have a responsibility to constantly educate, sensitise on this matter,” he said.

Issues arising

Other areas of contention as the lawmakers scrutinised the Bill hinged on Article 4 concerning incitement to commit genocide. Parliamentarians said the issue of masterminding genocide should be clearly spelled out, to include any act that may be construed as laying ground for genocide.

The article reads; “incitement to commit genocide is any intentional act done in public, which encourages or coerces another person to commit genocide.”

MP Constance Rwaka Mukayuhi said: “I am personally concerned because this is not indicated anywhere in the legislation yet in 1994, process of the Genocide actually included laying its ground through acts like preparing lists of people who would be killed, and to me, it is also genocide ideology and should have been included,” she said.

However, to Byabarumwanzi, genocide preparation is well catered for in the Penal Code.
 
Essence of the Bill


Once finally approved, the draft law which officials say will overhaul the 2008 law punishing the crime of genocide ideology, it is hoped the new legislation will address criticism of the current law, which some say is ambiguous.

Critics say the current law lacks clarity and limits free speech.

The Bill seeks to clearly outline the different acts that constitute genocide ideology including incitement to commit genocide; negation of the Genocide against the Tutsi, trivialising the Genocide against the Tutsi; justifying the Genocide against the Tutsi; and hiding or destroying evidence of genocide or of other crimes against humanity.

The theft or destruction of remains of victims of genocide and violence against the survivor of genocide are the other offences it seeks to punish.

Article 5 of the law defines negation of  genocide as any intentional act, done in public, which states or suggests that the 1994 Genocide did not happen or was not planned; deliberately distorts the facts about  genocide for the purpose of misleading the public; or supports a double genocide theory for Rwanda.

What is in the Penal Code?

Article 116 of the Penal Code says any person who publicly shows, by their words, writings, images, or by any other means, that they negate the Genocide against the Tutsi, minimise it or attempt to justify or approve its grounds, or any person who hides or destroys its evidence shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of less than five but not exceeding nine years.

Also, any person convicted of hiding remains of victims of the Genocide shall be liable to imprisonment of 10 to 15 years and a fine of Rwf500,000 to Rwf2,000,000. 

Article 118 of the Penal Code says t any person, who deliberately incinerates or destroys remains of the victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi in any way whatsoever, shall be liable to life imprisonment.

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