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II. Recommendations

Government of Rwanda

Statutory Law

  • Amend the Penal Code to define defilement, rape, torture, and sexual torture, ensuring that the definition of rape covers marital rape, acquaintance rape, and similar practices;
  • Implement the safeguards established by the 2004 Gacaca Law, which would permit a rape victim to give testimony before a single gacaca judge, confidential testimony in writing, or testimony to staff at the provincial prosecutor’s office; and
  • Amend the Code of Criminal Procedure to require that all courts withhold from the general public the name, location, and other identifying information of a victim of alleged sexual violence; and
  • Adopt the draft law on reparations, with a modification that would ensure the preservation of the National Assistance Fund (Fonds d’assistance aux rescapés du génocide, FARG), a program for genocide survivors who demonstrate financial need and that provides housing and health benefits, as well as school fees for the children of survivors.

Witness Protection

  • Appoint additional women as assistant prosecutors to communicate with rape victims in a confidential and secure environment and provide them with specialized training to advise women on their legal rights;
  • Provide transportation as necessary for rape victims and witnesses to prosecutors’ offices for depositions and to courts for trial or other proceedings;
  • Assist rape victims who wish to testify in writing in gacaca courts but who lack the requisite literacy skills;
  • Provide trauma counselors for women who report or testify to sexual violence to police, prosecutors, or gacaca judges; and
  • Raise public awareness of rights and legal procedures, as well as sponsor public education campaigns by survivors’ organizations or other NGOs at the community level, particularly with respect to the 2004 Gacaca Law.


  • In consultation with medical and legal professionals, develop a standard protocol for medical exams following sexual assault and require that all hospitals and health centers conform to the defined procedure;
  • Once such a protocol has been developed, train medical professionals to apply the protocol in conducting medical exams and educate them about Rwandan law on sexual violence;
  • Train prosecutors and judges in the use of medicolegal evidence in prosecution and adjudication of sexual violence cases;
  • Increase the number of women judicial police officers (OPJ) trained to conduct sexual violence investigations and counsel victims of sexual abuse;
  • Establish a sexual violence unit in all twelve prosecutors’ offices, composed of judicial personnel trained in the law on sexual violence and counseling of victims, to pursue effective investigations and prosecutions of such cases; and
  • Ensure that at least one gacaca judge in each cell-level court has received timely and periodic training in investigation, prosecution, and witness protection in sexual violence cases.

Reparations Fund for Genocide Victims

  • Enact the 2002 draft law on reparations, with the modification discussed above;
  • Design projects, particularly those aimed at improving access to health care (such as those discussed below), under the scope of the reparations fund; these should not replace FARG but build on its initiatives;
  • Seek legal expertise to devise the management structure of the reparations fund; and
  • Once a reparations fund is in place, conduct nationwide campaigns to inform victims about the possibility of reparations and the procedures to obtain them.

International Donors

  • Commit to providing support should the Rwandan government adopt a reparations law; and
  • Provide assistance for projects, whether within or outside the scope of a reparations law, to assist genocide survivors, particularly rape victims, who have special needs. Such assistance should include:
    • Outreach, medical services, and trauma counseling for rape victims, with special attention to dissemination of information on voluntary HIV counseling and testing and access to ARV therapy and treatment for opportunistic infections of AIDS;
    • Provision of resources for public health care facilities and training of medical personnel, with a view to increasing capacity to undertake medicolegal exams for rape victims and implement ARV therapy and treatment for opportunistic infections of AIDS;
    • A fund to sponsor the primary and secondary education of children of HIV-positive genocide rape victims;
    • A fund to defray transport costs of victims who must travel to seek legal, medical, psychological, or other assistance;
    • Funding of economic initiatives for female genocide survivors;
    • Funding for counseling training programs; and
    • Funding for survivors’ organizations and counseling organizations to widen the network of legal assistance and counseling for genocide survivors, particularly those in rural areas.

<<previous  |  index  |  next>>September 2004