Plan to introduce ankle monitors for convicts takes shape

Minister of Justice Johnston Busingye speaks at the commission on the state of national security on Friday, July 12, 2019. / Sam Ngendahimana

The government is putting final touches to a legal framework that will, among others, see convicted felons serving short sentences released into the community where they will be obliged to do community service or wear monitoring ankle bracelets.

Briefing the commission on the state of national security on Friday, the Minister for Justice, Johnston Busingye, said that the plan was to keep as many people out of jail as possible.

This, he said, will allow government to concentrate more on rehabilitation, which can also be done when the convict is out of prison.

“We are trying to create alternatives. We are concentrating more on correcting people that incarcerating them. We are more interested in seeing people learn from their mistakes and we are doing everything possible to support them to straighten their lives,” he said.

Busingye pointed out that any inmate interested in pursuing education at any level are supported in all ways to achieve their dream.

“We have a juvenile detention facility in Nyagatare District where most of those minors have performed very well many in school and have even been pardoned by the President. Any adult who wants to pursue even a PhD in the correctional facility has our full support and we do all we can to make that possible,” he said.

Ankle monitor

Busingye pointed out that though the number of people in the country’s correctional facilities has significantly reduced over the years, the Government continues to find more alternatives to incarceration.

“The law in the pipeline will also mandate the use of an electronic ankle monitor on convicts who have been sentenced to house arrest, have been paroled or those on probation. They may be worn before or after a person goes to trial on criminal charges,” he said.

The ankle monitor tracks the wearer’s location to a monitoring system via GPS and an attempt to remove the device triggers an alarm to law enforcement. If the offender travels outside of a set geographic area, such as the city in which he or she lives, it also triggers an alarm.

Low crime rate

The Secretary General of the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), Colonel Jeannot Ruhunga, told the lawmakers that though issues like armed robbery, kidnapping, murder of security personnel and car hijacking are not crimes that can be found anywhere in the country, the issue of cybercrime is still a challenge.

“Some crimes that are common in other countries are unheard of here. That said, we are dealing with an issue of cybercrime and in fact, we have a unit specifically in place to deal with that but as we advance, so do the criminals but we are working on it day and night,” he said.

In 2014, 182 people were released on parole. In 2016, they were 808, in 2018 the number rose to 3,273.