4 April 2019

Rwanda: Over 360 Abortion Convicts Receive Presidential Pardon

President Paul Kagame has pardoned 367 girls and women convicted for the offence of abortion, complicity in abortion and infanticide.

The President's clemency is part of the resolutions of Wednesday's extraordinary cabinet meeting that was chaired by Kagame.

"Pursuant to the powers conferred upon him by the laws... the President of the Republic informed the cabinet meeting that he has exercised his prerogative of mercy and pardoned 367 persons convicted for the offences of abortion, complicity in abortion and infanticide," a post cabinet meeting statement said.

The news was welcomed on social media, with many saying that should pave way for proclaiming abortion legal and safe.

Chantal Umuhoza said "This is a dream come true. Thanks HE.@PaulKagame we still hope for a Rwanda where abortion isn't a crime but a healthcare service accessible by all to reduce preventable maternal mortality and ensure that women can truly realise their rights including bodily autonomy and integrity,"

This is a dream come true. Thanks HE .@PaulKagame we still hope for a Rwanda where abortion isnt a crime but a healthcare service accessible by all to reduce preventable maternal mortality& ensure that women can truly realise their rights including bodily autonomy and integrity.

-- chantal umuhoza (@chante_MKS) April 4, 2019

Charity Bateta said on her twitter account that; "Our President knows how painful it is to be separated from your children! He knows how Labour pains! He is more than a "mother", a friend to many families and most importantly, he considers humanity for all."

As part of a wider amendment of the penal code, last year parliament revised the law on abortion. Unlike in the past when the decision to abort was in the hands of the court, today the process can be carried out after consultation between a woman and her doctor.

Excellent news, thank you President Kagame. Legalizing abortion would be appreciated because its vulnerable women & girls that are penalized & dying due to unsafe abortion

-- Annette Natukunda Mukiga #RwOT (@AnnetteMukiga) April 4, 2019

The revised law, however, still provides for specific circumstances under which abortion is legally permissible, for example in cases of rape, forced marriage, incest, or instances where the pregnancy poses health risks to the mother or unborn child.

But the law still awaits ministerial order to be into force and Justice Minister and Attorney General Johnston Busingye early last month told the press that the ministerial order that will actualise the provisions on abortion under the penal code is about to be published.

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