A senior cadre of Rwanda’s ruling party Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF),
While addressing the Pan African Movement Rwanda’s inter generation knowledge transfer dialogue in Kigali, Theogene Karinamaryo said the inmates will be released in two years.
“Some will have completed their sentence terms while others who pleaded guilty saw their jail term reviewed downward by relevant courts,” Karinamaryo is quoted.
The National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) is conducting rehabilitation campaign in the community to prepare reintegration of the prisoners. NURC reaches the community through faith groups and community set- ups
“This campaign is vital; we hope it will have good results. We have seen examples of convicts being forgiven and showing where bodies of genocide victims were thrown to be accorded decent burial. Those are precedents,” Louis Antoine Muhire, a commissioner at NURC said.
As watchdog reported, recently the Catholic Church in Rwanda came under fire for appealing to government to assess punishments for elderly and sick genocide convicts so that they can be integrated into reconciliation programmes.
However, days later church backtracked, saying it regretted the timing of their declaration but standing by their statement.
“We apologise because we announced it during this difficult commemoration period,” the Church said in the statement signed by the Bishop of Huye Diocese Mgr. Phillippe Rukamba, who is the president of the episcopal Conference.
“There are sections of the statement that may have especially the one requesting for commuting sentences of old and sick genocide convicts,” reads part of the statement. “We regret that the message hurt people especially considering the period during which it was communicated. This was not our intention. We apologize the statement continues.
The government of Rwanda and the Catholic Church have had unease relationship since the 1994 Genocide, with the church accused of taking part in the mass killings. Two years ago, the Catholic church in Rwanda apologised for the role in the 1994 Genocide, saying it regretted the actions of those who participated in the massacres.
“We apologize for all the wrongs the church committed. We apologize on behalf of all Christians for all forms of wrongs we committed. We regret that church members violated their oath of allegiance to God’s commandments,” said the statement
The statement acknowledged that church members planned, aided and carried out the Genocide, in which more than 1,000,000 were killed by Hutu extremists. In the years since the Genocide, Catholic church had resisted efforts by the government and survivors to acknowledge the church’s complicity in mass murder, saying those church officials who committed crimes acted individually.
Many of the victims died at the hands of priests, clergymen and nuns while thousands died in churches where they had sought refuge.
Recently the Commissioner General of Rwanda Correctional Services (RCS), George Rwigamba said that despite efforts by government most people who took part in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi are yet to show remorse and seek forgiveness.
“25 years later, some people are yet to come forward and talk. They have had enough time to reflect on what they did and some are opening up. It has been a tough journey but together with Prison Fellowship we have achieved a lot and we believe others will also show remorse and apologise,” he said.
“We have over 27,000 Genocide convicts and many of them are yet to show remorse and apologise to the families of the victims, only about 6,000 (22.2 per cent) have apologised and were forgiven by victims and reconciled,” revealed Rwigamba.
The programme started two decades ago and has helped some prisoners to reintegrate into their communities and meet with the victims and reconcile. Community courts, known as Gacaca, completed heir work in 2012 after 10 years of trying those accused of involvement in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. The courts were set up to speed up the prosecution of hundreds of thousands of Genocide suspects
The United Nations’ International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was set up in Arusha, Tanzania to try the ringleaders of the Genocide. But this left hundreds of thousands of people accused of involvement in the mass killings, leading to an enormous backlog of cases in Rwanda. Gacaca courts were set up to clear the backlog but also with the main aim fostering truth, justice and reconciliation.
The traditional courts tried close to two million cases within a decade of their existence accumulating a budget of Rwf30 billion less than 3 per cent of funds that were used by the UN funded ICTR which has since also wrapped up its work with mixed results.
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