The government is taking steps to empower the National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA) by granting them the authority to initiate negotiations between suspects and victims in cases where the offense committed does not warrant imprisonment exceeding five years.
The Minister of State in charge of Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Solina Nyirahabimana, revealed this development during a parliamentary session on Monday, June 26, while presenting a new draft law on criminal procedure.
Currently, negotiations can be initiated by the prosecution in cases where the offense carries a maximum prison term of 2 years, with exceptions for cases involving minor suspects or offenses punishable by a maximum prison term of 5 years. However, Nyirahabimana highlighted that this often leads to unnecessary court filings when cases could have been resolved at the prosecution level.
“To address this issue, we have amended article 24 on the obligations of a prosecutor upon receipt of the case file to allow negotiations between the suspect and victim in cases where the offense is not punishable with a prison term exceeding five years, such as intentional assault and battery,” she explained.
Nyirahabimana further emphasized that the decision to engage in negotiations will be at the discretion of the prosecution, taking into account the interests of the victims.
MP Veneranda Nyirahirwa praised this initiative as an effective measure to reduce congestion in correctional facilities. However, she expressed concerns regarding the attention given to cases involving minor victims.
In response, Nyirahabimana assured that thorough reviews had been conducted, and cases involving minors would receive even closer attention. She also reiterated the government’s commitment to protecting children’s rights.
Other proposed changes include granting judges greater flexibility to reduce penalties in cases involving mitigating circumstances, reducing the required period of imprisonment before being eligible for parole, and incorporating relevant provisions from the Organic Law terminating Gacaca Courts, among other amendments.