Since colonial times until late 80s, justice in Rwanda had been characterized with poor administration and a culture of impunity, which were among other the causes of the 1994 Genocide.
After the aftermath of the Genocide, there have been continuous efforts to restore political stability. This has been mainly achieved through rebuilding government institutions and infrastructure of civil society through a democratic framework.
For unity and reconciliation purposes, Gacaca courts as well as works of general interest commonly known as Travaux d’intérêt general (TIG) were formed
The Secretariat of Travaux d’intérêt général (TIG) is charged with implementing community service in place for genocide convicts awaiting prosecution under the Gacaca.
It is also expected to play a key role in balancing the interest of national reconciliation while at the same time ensuring that the punishments imposed have a direct benefit to the community. TIG programme was established by the Presidential decree No 26/01 of 10 December 2001.
The New Times visited Rutunga camp in Gasabo District. It has existed for 15 months and harbors 333 convicts of which 17 are women.
In this camp, all the prisoners have acknowledged their participation in the 1994 Genocide and have asked for forgiveness.
As you move around this area, you see that a lot of work has been done by these convicts from this particular camp of Rutunga. A 15 km murrum road has been constructed in Rutunga and much more productive work has been done as the camp coordinator Jean Marie Vianney Rutaganda explains: "TIG has played a vital role in the country. It has promoted unity and reconciliation. It has contributed to intensive agriculture and infrastructure development in the country".
Blandine Nyiranshuti, Gasabo TIG district coordinator says that this program has played a vital role in rebuilding national unity and reconciliation in the country.
Some of the convicts interviewed in the camp told The New Times how essential this program is to them and the entire country.
Emmanuel Kanyadekwe, a convict in this camp says: "we have benefited a lot in this camp and let me take this chance of thanking government because the punishments we got were less than what we deserved.
Gerald Gatera also a convict, calls upon all those who participated in the Genocide to ask for forgiveness instead of keeping quiet and carry un confessed guilty forever.
"We are happy, life is good for us. It is better than what it used to be when we were still in those other prisons," Gatera said.
The mandate of justice sector is to ensure a system that fosters unity and reconciliation, eradicates corruption and injustice, promotes human rights, and facilitates trade and investment.
In Rwanda, the justice system ensures that the objectives of vision 2020 and the PRSP are also realised.