The Minister of Justice, Aimée Laurentine Kanyana, was this 30 October in the National Assembly to shed light on the penal code revision. She says some changes in the current penal code have to be made as it dates from 2009 in order to strengthen the repression of certain offenses and revise some of its articles.
Among the innovations of the bill on the penal code, roaming and street begging were not punishable in the penal code under revision. But following the increase in these offenses, the minister of justice says it is necessary to update this old law with some modifications by replacing the government's provision for the penal servitude and fine. "Human exploitation through begging is harshly punished in the new penal code from its 522 to 525 articles", she says.
MP Séraphine Nzeyimana says there are two categories of beggars: people with disabilities and those without any health problems. However, she wonders whether or not those who force disabled people into begging will also be punished according to the law.
The minister says the phenomenon of street people is due to different causes. "Children, women and men prefer to leave their homes to live in streets without knowing that they are committing a crime", she says.
Aimée Laurentine Kanyana says the ministry plans to set up a center for the promotion of law capacity building. "There is a need to hold sensitization campaigns so that the concerned know what they are allowed to do or not", she says.
Minister Kanyana also says justice officials will first have to investigate what caused the people to live in the streets before detaining them.
Burundi government launched a campaign to eradicate street living and begging in June 2016. A study conducted in 2011 showed that at least 3,253 children lived in the street of the capital Bujumbura and cities of Ngozi, Gitega and Rumonge provinces.