BUJUMBURA February 13th (ABP) – The Burundi National Assembly’s Social Commission, Gender Repatriation, Equal Opportunities and the Fight against AIDS presented, in Bujumbura on Monday, February 11, 2019, a report it produced on a trip carried out to evaluate the enforcement of Law No. 1/13 of September 22, 2016 on the prevention, protection of victims and the repression of gender-based violence.

MP Adolphe Banyikwa, who presented the report, said the trip was carried out in seven provinces of the country: Bujumbura, Rumonge, Gitega, Ngozi, Kayanza, Muyinga and Kirundo. The law has already had a positive impact in the community but challenges related to its enforcement remain visible.

The major achievements in the enforcement of the SGBV law in the seven provinces concerned are, among other things, the sensitization and dissemination of this law to administrative officials at all levels as well as to other social categories and sectors of the community like schools, health centers and community groups of women and cooperatives. There is also the establishment of SGBV-specialized Units at the Judicial Police, the High Courts and Courts with staff trained in the matter.

SGBV related trials are dealt with expeditiously, with the accompaniment and assistance of victims of sexual and gender-based violence. Honorable Banyikwa also stated that according to the comments made by the users and beneficiaries of this instrument, this law has some shortcomings.

The articles with shortcomings include Article 1 where the expression “Without prejudice” attenuates the weight of the law, Article 14 where after the sanctions, the result is not specified. There is, in addition, Article 21 which presents the provision which is vague as to what the direct neighbors must do under the penalty of being sanctioned in accordance with the Criminal Code but also Article 42 where the situation after penalty and payment of the fine is not specified.

Banyikwa also said that the same law presents challenges related in particular to its enforcement where the application of the law on the prevention, protection of victims and the repression of SGBV faces difficulties mainly related to the deficiencies contained in its provisions, but also to custom and tradition.

After the trip, the commission made recommendations to the government. It is notably the implementation of the measures protecting the 1st wife in case of regularization of illegal unions, grant free medical expertise, and computerize the civil status services in order to avoid “repeated marriages”, the creation and implementation of a fund for emergency care of SGBV cases.

After the said trip, the Commission listed a questionnaire to be sent to the Minister of Human Rights, Social Affairs and Gender. Some of the questions asked are mainly men’s complaints about this law which they say largely protects the woman, what the government intends to do to correct some of the irregularities in this law, the Individuals and Families Code, which states that ” When a man has many women illegally, he can legally unite with the one he wants” which is in contradiction with the law on SGBV and many others.

The minister indicated that the enforcement of that law has reached a considerable level despite the fact that everything is not rosy. He also said that shortcomings and challenges in the law will slowly find lasting solutions.

Regarding the free medical expertise in case of SGBV, the minister said that the expertise itself requires a lot of means but that the State can reduce prices, but the problem remains at the level of private hospitals.

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