Senators endorse lighter sentence for genocide ideology

The crime of genocide ideology could earn convicts lighter jail terms and sentences, subject to the President’s approval, after Senate endorsed a new draft law.
Clothes and shoes belonging to Genocide victims at Murambi Memorial  Centre. These evidences of Genocide against the Tutsi were exhumed from mass graves.  The New Times/ File.
Clothes and shoes belonging to Genocide victims at Murambi Memorial Centre. These evidences of Genocide against the Tutsi were exhumed from mass graves. The New Times/ File.

The crime of genocide ideology could earn convicts lighter jail terms and sentences, subject to the President’s approval, after Senate endorsed a new draft law.

Senators on Wednesday unanimously passed the Genocide Ideology Bill without substantial changes from what the Chamber of Deputies proposed. The new law-to-be will replace the 2008 anti-genocide legislation, much maligned for being “vague”.

Assistant Attorney-General in the Ministry of Justice Jean Pierre Kayitare praised the lawmakers for having considered the proposed amendments.

“The existing law provides for heavy penalties which have now been reduced and, this time, the draft law is clearer and elaborate. Basically, this draft law is richer,” said Kayitare.

Under the law awaiting presidential assent, a person convicted of genocide ideology will be sentenced to a maximum of nine years in jail. The current law provides for a maximum of 25 years for the same crime.

Definition

The Bill defines genocide ideology as “any deliberate act, committed in public whether by oral, written or video means or by any other means which may show that a person is characterised by ethnic, religious, nationality or racial-based thoughts aiming at advocating for the commission of genocide and to support genocide.”

According to Kayitare, judges face a challenge of interpreting the current genocide ideology law.

The Bill lists eight offences related to genocide ideology, including incitement to commit genocide, negation of the genocide, minimisation of genocide and justifying genocide.

Others include concealing or destroying evidence of genocide or other crimes against humanity, theft or destruction of remains of victims of genocide, demolishing memorial site or cemetery for victims of genocide and targeted violence against genocide survivors.

Kayitare said once the new framework is gazetted, all cases related to genocide ideology will automatically start referring to it.

“However, this won’t be applicable to people who are already sentenced. Those that were charged and sentenced under the current law have to serve their sentence to the end because of the non-retroactivity principle.”

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