Rwanda: Busingye - GBV Perpetrators Have Changed Tactics

13 November 2019

The Minister for Justice and Attorney General, Johnston Busingye, has said that perpetrators of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) have changed their techniques, and so should the investigators pursuing them.

He noted this in a workshop organised by the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) in partnership with UN WOMEN, where prosecutors, investigators and judges had come to discuss on how to improve service delivery for GBV victims.

"People now have a new way of thinking and are now aware of what the law stipulates. Some, before they commit crimes, plan on how they will defend themselves when they are pursued, and others, right after they commit the crime, pave ways of facing the law," he said.

He further explained, that such people may see their lawyers before committing the crime, or right after, and it could be worse if law enforcement agencies don't change their approach.

"If we don't change, those we are pursuing will say they are innocent. They will go to social media, pressure us, then we start struggling with public opinion when the perpetrator knows well they committed the crime", he added.

He also suggested improving investigation on psychological violence, which he called 'invisible fists', whose evidence is not always visible.

"For people who tell others to dress decently so that they don't get raped, we have already talked about it. (someone will say) that 'because the girl was wearing a mini (skirt/dress), it led to ... '".

He also gave an example of husband and wife who have both gone to make a living and left their child at home, and someone defiles them.

One can come and claim that: "...parents abandoned the child."

GBV crimes have been rising drastically partly driven by improved awareness of the law by the public, which has continued to facilitate silence breaking.

According to Busingye, the inability by law enforcement agencies to reach all corners of the country meant that some GBV cases used to go unreported.

Col Jeannot Ruhunga, the Secretary-General of RIB said the main target is to eliminate the crime.

"Although some researches have shown that mass sensitization contributes to the increase in reporting the crime which increases the numbers, our main target is not only for victims to report, but we want this crime to be eliminated for good that no one commits it", he said.

Some of the challenges in pursuing justice for GBV victims are poor maintenance of evidence, like when someone has been sexually assaulted but goes to RIB after bathing.

Another challenge is lack of common understanding and interpretation of evidence between parties, where some cases may be dropped by the prosecution and courts because of 'lack of evidence'.

The legal framework, however, has increased punishments for GBV crimes, implemented the law protecting children, and established Isange One-Stop Center (IOSC) and Rwanda Forensic Laboratory (RFL), among others.

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