KIGALI, RWANDA – In a precedent-setting case, a Kigali man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 5-year-old Rwandan girl.
"[This case] will pave the way in many ways," says one of IJM Rwanda's lawyers, James Nuwagaba. He explained that the judge accepted testimonies about the abuse from the child as well as an expert witness – not always the case in Rwandan trials, even though the law allows for testimonies from the victim and expert witnesses like psychologists to stand as evidence.
IJM social workers helped the little girl to communicate what had happened to her in a written statement, then submitted it to the court as her testimonial evidence. The legal team supported the case, and Nuwagaba added, "Our partnership with the [Rwandan government] prosecution was great, and we couldn't do it without them."
On May 25, 2012, the perpetrator was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison, the longest sentence in an IJM Rwanda case to date.
The conviction means justice for the girl and her family, but they will continue to receive care and counsel from IJM social workers to help them heal. IJM has arranged necessary medical care and provided trauma-focused therapy to the girl, and her mother is still part of a trauma-therapy group for family members.