Former convicts urge general public to be welcoming towards reformed returnees

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Former convicts urge general public to be welcoming towards reformed returnees

Yanditswe Feb, 17 2020 20:56 PM
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Calls have been made for former convicts to be properly accepted back in society and not victimized for past mistakes they paid for while in Prison.

Many Convicts say even their own family members find it difficult to accept them after they have served their time.

Valery Ndererimana served a 15-year sentence in prison for the crimes she committed during the 1994 Tutsi Genocide and after being released, she could not return to her home District of Nyaruguru because of the shame she felt.

Ndererimana said; "For us former Inmates, the people do not see us in a good light, maybe with the exception of local leaders, everyone else sees us as bad. Even here in Kigali, people started to wonder about me after they learnt that I had served time. I participate in things like Umuganda and community meetings where people sometimes say bad things to my face. One person even accused me of being an escaped convict. I had to show the necessary documents that I had indeed served my time in full," 

Other former convicts we spoke to told us of different experiences, however, saying they have been accepted back in society and are leading relatively normal lives and in places like Bugesera District, a settlement exists where Genocide Survivors and Perpetrators who served their time for the crimes they committed now live side by side in harmony.

Officials at the Rwanda Correctional Service say before Inmates are released, they are briefed on how they must conduct themselves on the outside if they do not want to end up in prison again. 

The spokesperson of RCS, SSP Hillary Sengabo, said; "We do not have access to their families or the communities they return to, but we do prepare the Inmates themselves and urge them to consider that things might not be as they left them in their homes, pertaining to their children and spouses. In any case, we urge them to be careful so as not to land in Prison again,"

The Organization Prison Fellowship Rwanda has now formed 900 groups of former Inmates, each with 25 members with the objective of assisting them to integrate back into society. 

 Ntwali Jean Paul, Deputy Executive Director Prison Fellowship International Rwanda said; "Our most recent research found that indeed guilt, shame, and discrimination are things former Inmates have to struggle with. However, when you consider just how serious their crimes were, it is not surprising and the Rwandan Society must welcome them back and embrace them if they are to overcome the feelings they now struggle with. The groups we form help them and in most cases, many decide to leave their home areas, in attempts to be free of that shame and guilt," 

In 1995; Rwanda's Prisons had more than 120,000 people in them, most Genocide Perpetrators.

Now the country's Prisons hold slightly more than 75,000 people; 27,000 of whom are Genocide Perpetrators serving time.

 

By Serge Ntore 



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