Victims of gender-based sexual violence in the country will continue to wait longer for justice as the prosecution is failing to get the required evidence to successfully bring cases to court.
This is partly attributed to gaps by the Rwanda Investigation Bureau, which is unable to collect evidence in a timely manner to facilitate the prosecution proceed with its work.
As such, while cases of gender-based violence against women and girls increase with over 2,715 cases filed at the beginning of the year, from 3,001 received in 2017/2018 according to a report by National Public Prosecution Authority, there is concern that many victims will not get justice despite reporting their cases, due to lack of substantive evidence.
“Prosecution of cases is being frustrated by insufficient evidence due to non-collaborative stakeholders. In most cases, the Rwanda Investigation Bureau is not carrying out immediate investigations on the suspect like taking samples for forensic evidence,” said Jean Bosco Mutangana Prosecutor-General at the National Public Prosecution Authority.
This, he said, has led to the dismissal of thousands of cases denying many victims justice. According to officials from the National Public Prosecution Authority, this number is expected to double by the end of this year because both forensic and physical evidence is not well collected.
“The rise in gender-based violence mostly targets women and girls, due to poor cultural beliefs, ignorance among people to report perpetrators, and carelessness by some doctors while collecting samples from victims,” said Mr Mutangana, adding that gender-based violence manifests in the form of wife battering, denial of resources, rape, defilement, trafficking, and sexual harassment.
The prosecution said at least two out of five women and girls are victims of gender-based violence in Rwanda.
However, according to Modeste Mbabazi spokesperson of the Rwanda Investigation Bureau, there might be cases where mistakes can be made by either the prosecution or those assigned to carry out the investigation, but the blame should not just be on the bureau alone.
“The Rwanda Investigation Bureau does everything possible to conduct investigations to ensure justice for the victims, but still a failure to get information from the victims is hindering the process,” said Mr Modeste.
Statistics from the office of the National Public Prosecution Authority show that out of 3,001 rape cases reported in 2017/2018 1,096 cases were dismissed, out of 538 defilement cases 273 cases were dismissed and out of 1,093 domestic violence cases reported 301 cases were dismissed due to insufficient evidence.
“Such deficiency in prosecution denies victims justice hence allowing perpetrators to commit these crimes with impunity,” said the Prosecutor-General, adding that, “Cases of human trafficking are also on the rise in the country.”