On 11 October 2019, Rwandan President Paul Kagame signed a decree pardoning 52 young women in prison for abortions, including some convicted for infanticide, on the eve of the International Day of the Girl Child. The statement was issued from a Cabinet meeting chaired by him; it said he was “exercising his power of mercy to give people another chance”. The Rwandan Minister of Justice, Johnston Busingye, said the President found it “fitting to give these convicts a second chance”, according to newswire reports.
This is the third time there has been such a pardon in Rwanda. In the first instance, on 9 December 2016, 62 girls and women were released who had been imprisoned for abortion under the age of 16. Many of them had become pregnant following sexual abuse. The second pardon was on 4 April 2019, releasing 367 people who had committed or assisted in the offences of abortion or infanticide. Both times, the pardon was issued under the prerogative of mercy. In April 2019, however, it was believed that that pardon covered everyone who was still in prison for abortion-related reasons. Hence, either that was not the case, or else new people have been imprisoned since April.