Rwanda releases genocide prisoners

Jails are overflowing with people implicated in the 1994 killings of 800,000 Tutsis.

    Genocide survivors accuse released inmates of planning or carrying out more ethnic killings [AFP]


    Genocide suspects

     

    Since a 2003 provisional release decreed by Paul Kagame, the Rwandan president, the country has freed up to 60,000 genocide suspects including the sick, the elderly and minors.

       

    The Rwandan government has said the releases are to ease overcrowding in the prisons and aims to foster reconciliation.

     

    Outrage

     

    But as with the earlier releases, genocide survivors expressed outrage.

     

    They accuse released inmates of planning or carrying out more ethnic killings.

       

    "They should ensure that they keep an eye on these people because some of them continue to harbour a genocide ideology," said Theodore Simburudali, president of the Ibuka genocide survivors group.   

    "They should ensure that they keep an eye on these people because some of them continue to harbour a genocide ideology"

    Theodore Simburudali, president of the Ibuka genocide survivors group.

     

    Hundreds already freed have since been re-arrested after committing other crimes, many while trying to destroy evidence related to their alleged involvement in the genocide.

       

    New York-based Human Rights Watch recently warned there could be more killings of genocide survivors by perpetrators of the massacre trying to eliminate evidence against them.

       

    Eustache Hakizimana, one of the released prisoners, who confessed to killing two people from his village during the genocide, cried tears of joy as he was released from Kigali's central prison on Monday.

       

    "I never dreamt of ever moving out of that wall," Hakizimana said, pointing to the prison.

     

    "I have spent 13 years without seeing the outside world."

       

    Half sentence

     

    Under Rwanda's traditional gacaca courts, criminals who confess their involvement in genocide are set free to serve half of their sentences outside of prison doing community work.

       

    But many Rwandans say the freed inmates will face discrimination and hatred in their home villages.

       

    Besides genocide suspects, another 1,000 people convicted of ordinary crimes have also been set free but must attend a month of training and before they can go home.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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