Some residents from Ruhuha sector in Bugesera District don’t understand more about felonies which can hinder citizens from voting or being voted.
Rwanda is preparing parliamentary elections on September 2nd to 4th 2018, and every Rwandan (who is 18 years old and above) has to participate except those with legal restrictions due to felonies as described by the law.
According to the law governing presidential and legislative elections, people prohibited from registering on the voters’ list are, people who have been deprived of their right to vote by competent courts of law and have not been rehabilitated nor granted amnesty in accordance with the law.
Every person convicted of murder and manslaughter; a person definitively convicted of the crime of genocide or crimes against humanity in the first and second categories are not allowed to vote.
A person who was convicted of the crime of defilement, a person who was convicted of the crime of rape, a prisoner and a refugee, are not eligible to vote.
Liberata Uwingabire said he used to know that a person is not allowed to participate in elections when he has been convicted to ten years of imprisonment and above.
“I, also, I wonder why those who finished their punishments can’t participate in elections. The country should believe in them, that they have been changed positively then they get their right to vote or to be voted again," She said.
Florida Niyonsaba said it was her first time to hear that people charged with some crimes are not allowed to vote or to be voted.
Besides, it’s a good move to ensure that the voted leaders in all levels have the minimum integrity and they may serve as good examples to the people, she said.
Felix Mbaraga, NEC representative in Ruhuha sector said many campaigns are conducted to help people have full information on elections.
“We give them the information so that they participate in elections whether by voting or being voted. We tell them that people who have been charged with felonies have to search for court rehabilitation if they want to exercise their right to vote and being voted,” he said.
Charles Munyaneza, the Executive Secretary to NEC said if a person commits a crime and even serve his penalties, it doesn’t take away the fact that he committed it.
Every year, the Commission receives a list of people with felonies from National Prosecution, and the body uses it to update the voting list, he said.
However, when a person is charged with a certain crime and at the end he is found innocent, the court gives him a document which he takes to NEC to be eligible to vote or being voted again.
“We sensitize people to know all about elections. We use volunteers on village level, we deliver messages through various community dialogues. Even though reaching to every Rwandan is still challenging, but we try our best,” he said.
The law nº 30/2013 of 24/05/2013 relating to the code of criminal procedure states that any person who is convicted of a felony or misdemeanor may be rehabilitated.
Rehabilitation may be granted after five (5) years if during that time a convicted person has continuously and effectively demonstrated good behaviour.