Ministry now mulls setting up camps for ex-genocide convicts
Saturday April 15 2023
The government plans to establish rehabilitation camps for over 22,000 convicts of the 1994 Genocide Against Tutsi who will be released after serving their sentences.
The initiative comes as survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and human rights organizations expressed concerns that Rwanda’s hard-earned unity and reconciliation were at stake as genocide convicts complete their sentences and are released back into the community.
Convicts who are getting released are those who were handed sentences of over 25 years of imprisonment. This means they did not get a reduced jail terms because they neither confessed nor admitted to their crimes.
Minister for National Unity and Civic Engagement Dr Jean Damascene Bizimana, told Rwanda Today that in addition to continued education on unity and reconciliation in communities, the ministry is planning to start a three month rehabilitation camp for ex-convicts before they return to their communities.
“They are finishing their sentences gradually depending on when they started their sentences which means rehabilitation initiatives will have to be in place for the long term. We are still discussing how the three-month rehabilitation will work but we have established that they are needed,” Mr Bizimana said.
The Minister added that they are working with 10 non-profit organizations to educate unity and societal cohesion in communities. The NGOs are currently working with three districts intending to reach all 30 districts.
The chairperson of the Committee on Unity, Human Rights and Fight against Genocide in parliament Veneranda Nyirahirwa had told Rwanda Today that they are lobbying for how Mutobo Demobilisation Camp would start reeducating prisoners before they get back into their communities.
Mutobo Demobilisation Camp was established 26 years ago with a mission to demobilise and reintegrate ex-combatants in neighboring countries. Rwanda Rehabilitation Services only deal with delinquents so far.
According to the Prison Fellowship Rwanda, an NGO involved in educating inmates in nine out of 12 Rwandan prisons, some convicts remain stubborn with the genocide ideology. John Rucyahana, chairperson of the Prison Fellowship Rwanda said after years of educating unity in prisons, some inmates remain reluctant.
“The category of ex-convicts who remain stubborn with genocide ideology is a threat to families and communities to which they will return. I think during the rehabilitation camp, it will be important to educate them on the law as well, so they know which lines to not cross,” Mr Rucyahana said.
During the National Dialogue, 18th Umushyikirano, held 27-28 February, Minister Bizimana said genocide ideology is the most immediate threat that Rwanda’s unity and reconciliation faces and that the transmission and propagation of genocide ideology down the generations poses a serious threat to Rwanda’s unity.