President Paul Kagame has pardoned 10 girls and young women convicted for abortion related offences following a Presidential order approved by cabinet on Friday, July 30. The Minister of Justice and Attorney General Johnston Busingye said the beneficiaries of Presidential clemency will be released immediately.
“The President pardoned all 10 girls and young women convicted for abortion. All meaning there were 10 abortion convicts and all were pardoned,” Minister Busingye said.
In Rwanda, abortion is legal but under certain conditions including when the pregnant person is a minor, was raped, conceived through incest or when the pregnancy represents a real risk for the mother, foetus or both.
The Executive Secretary Rwanda NGOs Forum on HIV/AIDS and Health Promotion, Nooliet Kabanyana, welcomed the development, thanking President Kagame for the gesture.
“Let us keep up with awareness raising and sensitization on the Ministerial Order determining conditions to be satisfied for a medical doctor to perform an abortion,” Kabanyana posted on Twitter, while feminist and women rights activist Sylvie Nsanga said that this isn’t the first time President Kagame has showed commitment to intervene in the plight of girls and young women convicted for abortion.
“We very much appreciate his endless commitment to improving women’s living conditions and rights. Women’s health is equal to women rights and human rights,” she tweeted.
In May 2020, President Kagame pardoned 52 girls and young women who were serving different sentences after they found guilty of engaging in illegal abortion. Activists say if conditions under which abortion is granted are eased would minimize the number of girls and women who are convicted on abortion offences.
In a similar manner, the Cabinet approved a Ministerial order granting the release on parole of 4,781 convicts, with Minister Busingye stating that they have been given a new lease on life due to the good conduct they exhibited.
“It means that those released have been given a second chance to live productive lives. Their release follows follow up of their conduct and reasonable conviction that they will turn their respective early release into opportunities to build on,” Busingye told KT Press, adding that the conditions for parole include good conduct, demonstration of commitment to social rehabilitation, having served a third of sentence if it is 5yrs or less and having served 2/3 if sentence is above 5 years
He said that convicts not allowed this privilege include all recidivists and those convicted for; genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide ideology and related offences(denial, revisionism..), defilement, human trafficking, murder, discrimination.