A communication published on January 28th, 2020, announcing decisions of an extraordinary cabinet meeting that was held at Village Urugwiro the same day read:
“His Excellency the President of the Republic of Rwanda informed the Cabinet meeting of a pardon granted to 18 youth who were serving sentences in Nyagatare prison that displayed good conduct and scored highly in the national examinations.”
On January 29th, 2020, Busingye Johnston, the Minister of Justice posted on his Twitter account that President Kagame granted a presidential pardon for the fourth time in a row since 2017.
“Yes. His Excellency Paul Kagame did it, again, the fourth time in a row, since 2017. For good conduct and good academic performance, the juvenile convicts have earned themselves a Presidential Pardon and, with it, a brand-new lease of life. They will walk out ASAP. Thank you, Your Excellency.”
13 of the youths who were pardoned sat for Primary School National Examinations and 8 of them passed with distinction, 5 with satisfaction. For those who sat for Ordinary level, 5 passed with distinction and one with satisfaction. One is still waiting for advanced level results.
In 2019, President Kagame granted pardon to 16 other convicted youths including 3 girls who were serving their sentences in Nyagatare Prison. They were convicted for different crimes including rape, minor defilement, drug abuse and terrorism acts.
Article 109 of the Constitution of Rwanda states: “The President of the Republic has the authority to exercise the prerogative of mercy in accordance with the procedures provided for by law and after consultation with the Supreme Court.”
The President of the Republic has the authority to exercise the prerogative of mercy in accordance with the procedures provided for by law and after consultation with the Supreme Court.
Convicts dossiers are submitted for re-evaluation to prosecution and then handed to the Ministry of Justice who is required to submit a decision within 3 months and send a report to the President of the Republic who makes the final decision.
The President of the Republic can grant mercy or parole without following any written procedure or by assigning the parolee responsibilities to fulfill. A parolee who doesn’t follow the rules risks going back into custody.