Inadequate pacification of released genocide convicts worries survivors

On 24 April 2019 at 10:30

IBUKA, the umbrella organization of genocide survivors has raised worries on inadequate pacification processes of inmates convicted for role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, saying some they are not adequately prepared before reintegration into society.

The worries were raised recently during the commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi held at Nyanza Genocide Memorial.

The president of IBUKA, Prof Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu thanked President Paul Kagame for exceptional leadership during the liberation struggle to stop genocide but expressed worries on reintegration measures.

“We can assure him that we don’t trust how genocide convicts are prepared before reintegration into the communities after completing their sentences. We find the process wanting,” he said.

Figures indicate that at least over 800 genocide convicts will be released this year, 920 will be released in 2020, 1496 in 2021, and 3620 in 2022 while 2012 will be released in 2023.
Some released convicts are not willing to apologize to offended people while others don’t reveal where remains of genocide victims are so they can be accorded decent burial.

The Executive Secretary of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC), Fidèle Ndayisaba has told IGIHE that there is a need to strengthen measures of reintegrating released genocide convicts because it takes a long time to transform a person having harbored genocide ideology for long.

“There are activities that must be carried out during their jail term including how they are helped and taught because they are not jailed to face prison’s walls only. Such activities are not only meant to be done by the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission,” he said.

He explained that there are more psychiatric activities organized after their release because ‘someone who committed such a heavy offense is severely hurt that he/she requires psychiatric programs freeing them to be completely transformed.’

Ndayisaba stressed that such initiatives have to be reinforced especially during this period when many of genocide convicts who were handed 10 years and beyond are about finishing their sentences.

“Districts have adopted strategies of visiting inmates in prison to engage with convicts. Convicts meet leaders to hear their concerns and meet a representative of genocide survivors; it prepares them for transformation and getting them ready for integration to live in harmony with others when they are released into the society,” he said.

“Their families, neighbors should be informed that those convicts will be released. It is necessary for them to get such information earlier so they don’t be surprised to see the person returning to the society,” added Ndayisaba.

It was also highlighted by the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG), Dr. Jean Damascène Bizimana that they hold talks on genocide every year especially during the commemoration period.

He stressed the need to draw constant policies to teach inmates because they are subject to be taken to court in case they commit another offense after release.

“It doesn’t mean there are unusual behaviors but they don’t often know that sentences handed to offenders are completed. This leads them to bring allegations that someone was released before completing the sentence. When we analyze the case, we find he/she finalized the sentence,”

The spokesperson of Rwanda Correctional Service (RCS), SSP Hillary Sengabo, said that there are a number of programs through which genocide convicts are pacified and are becoming fruitful.

“When we realize that some genocide convicts feel transformed, they send letters to offended people then we connect them to apologize. Such gestures demonstrate that the person we taught is willing to change,” he said.

“The number of those doing it is little compared to genocide convicts but we prepare them as we can before an inmate completes the sentence and released. We cannot keep someone in prison after finalizing sentence because he/she has not yet apologized but they appear to have been transformed in general,” added Sengabo.

He explained that fruitful results of offered programs is measured through the absence of released genocide convicts returning to prison for genocide ideology.

“Today, only 30% of inmates are genocide convicts. It is a smaller number compared to inmates imprisoned for other crimes. This means others were released. They are integrated into the community while others completed the community service. When we don’t see them back for genocide ideology, we assume that they got transformed,” said Sengabo.