Rwanda Information Portal

Rwanda Law: Jail For Life For Illegal Possession Of Firearm

Kigali: After June 28, anybody found illegally possessing a firearm faces the rough side of the law with up to a possible life sentence, according to a new law which comes into force on that date.

Penalties in the law also range from fives years in prison to a life sentence, or a fine of up to Rwf 2million (Approx. US$3,500), or even both.

Publicizing the new law is part of a new campaign by Police to encourage those still keeping weapons in their homes to hand them in. Other measures have included an arms-marking programme for future identification of arms.

The Police marked 2,263 firearms between January and September last year, according to records from the Regional Centre on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region. Some 2,604 firearms, 50,000 rounds of ammunition and 780 ammunition cases were destroyed in the same period.

Police say the recent series of grenade blasts across the country are a clear indication that there are firearms still in illegal hands. Several people alleged to be belonging to criminal gangs have been arrested and dozens of grenades recovered.

The authorities were stunned last month on finding a civilian man keeping some 150 pistol bullets in his house. Incidentally, an elderly sister to ex-Rwandan president Gregoire Kayibanda was living in the same house – prompting speculation something was seriously out of order.

Different from Southern Rwanda and Kigali where grenades have been hurled at crowds, in eastern Rwanda, grenades have gone off as children played with the weapon at home. The same thing happened in Northern Rwanda.

Police urge local officials in all districts to remind the population that time is running out for those still keeping arms illegally.

The ‘Law N°33/2009 of 18/11/2009 relating to arms’  was published in the Rwandan Official Gazette in December 2009.

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