8 February 2008

Rwanda: Parliament Passes Tough Law Against Genocide Revisionism

Kigali — Lawmakers on Friday voted through a controversial new law aimed at putting a halt to increasing cases of Genocide revisionism, known here as 'Genocide Ideology', RNA reports.

Members in the Lower House unanimously backed the law introduced recently following damning revelations showing gruesome cases in which school children were involved in ethnically motivated abuse.

'Genocide ideology' is a term used to describe the notion that Genocide perpetrators used to instill a hate campaign that created divisions.

Before the Genocide, a carefully crafted strategy dating back to colonial times under the Belgians, people were classified into Hutu, Twa and Tutsi. These identifications were put in national IDs essentially engraining the notion into everybody as belong to this or that group. During the mass slaughter, the hunted were simply sieved by help of the IDs.

The previous law instituted non-utilization of ethnicity in any form in a move the authorities had wanted to create a population that looks at 'Rwandan' first and superior to any other distinctions.

Under the new law, guilty children less than 12 years will be locked up in rehabilitation centres for not more than 12 months.

Anybody that kills another out of the influence of 'Genocide Ideology' or is involved in a plot to kill will go to jail for the rest of their life - which is the highest criminal punishment in Rwanda.

Under no circumstances shall there be any review of the punishment slammed on the guilty. This essentially means there will no option where the jailed guilty is pardoned or their prison term is reduced.

A guilty person on 'Genocide Ideology' for the second time will go back behind bars for life, the law asserts.

However, for the first occurrence, the accused will be liable to face between 10 to 25 years and a fine ranging from Rwf. 200.000 ($360) to 1 million ($1900).

The law is yet to go to the Upper House - the Senate - for further consideration and is likely to sail through with ease and urgency considering the motivation behind it.

The law was motivated by a parliamentary commission report in December last year which showed there was evidence that some Rwandan schools were encouraging a platform to promote "genocide ideology". The MPs' inquiry came up with a list of 11 schools, where students rebuked each other depending on which ethnic group they came from.

President Paul Kagame will also have to look through the law, as the final hurdle before it becomes final.

In 2002, President Paul Kagame kicked out a controversial article on Genocide revisionism in the media bill in which parliament wanted a death penalty for journalists guilty of promoting hate in any way using the media.

Lawmakers recently launched a major campaign that should take them to all schools around the country sensitizing students on the problem. There will be billboards across the country inscribed 'Never Again'. Parents are supposed to ensure that their children do not develop such bad characters, with the help of educationists.

Copyright © 2008 Rwanda News Agency/Agence Rwandaise d'Information. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.