TIG – Community Service for Genocide Convicts

By Godfrey Ntagungira TIG is a Rwandan program allowing people found guilty of participating in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis to serve part of their sentences doing community services. TIG, “Travaux d’Intérêt Général,”is a French acronym meaning “community service as an alternative penalty to imprisonment.” This program is normally referred to as community services.

Contribution of tig in justice and national development

Achievements and prospects

By Godfrey Ntagungira

TIG is a Rwandan program allowing people found guilty of participating in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis to serve part of their sentences doing community services. TIG, “Travaux d’Intérêt Général,”is a French acronym meaning “community service as an alternative penalty to imprisonment.” This program is normally referred to as community services.

The program allows eligible genocide convicts to complete their sentences through participation in activities such as land consolidation, road building, construction of houses for genocide survivors, cutting paving stones, and brick and tile manufacturing. Participants are referred to as tigistes and they engage in hard unpaid works: breaking and hauling rocks, digging with picks and shovels, and manually moving earth by hand, sack, or wheel barrel.


Facing the total inhuman character of the genocide and crimes against humanity perpetrated in Rwanda in 1994, some brilliant measures have been taken and implemented.

A million people were killed in the genocide; millions more were implicated, both directly and indirectly, as participants in the killings. Supporters of the program reason that all who participated cannot possibly be imprisoned, and TIG administers appropriate justice while serving to reconcile the Rwandan population.

A day spent touring the TIG work sites was not about testimonials from the genocide convicts but carrying out observations and  evaluating approaches, punitive effectiveness, or rehabilitative results. It was centred on operational functions and the people carrying them out.

That become a realty with the vote of the organic law of 30th august 1996 on the organisation of prosecution constituting the crime of genocide or crimes against humanity committed from 1st October 1990 and in the future with the vote of different organic laws on Gacaca jurisdictions.


Maintaining the principle of classification of persons accused of offences into categories on the basis of their levels of participation.

I. Introducing the participation of the whole community in the judgement

II. Allowing the accused to their crimes and to beg pardon from the victims and community

III. Reduce sentence for accused persons who have confessed their crimes and if the guilt plea is accepted by the court.

IV. Introduction of a new form of penalty, the community services TIG as an alternative penalty to imprisonment.


The government of Rwanda has put in place this form of penalty looking for away of punishment that can enable Rwandans to eradicate the culture of impunity, reinforcing the process of unity and reconciliation and facilitating social-economic development of the country.

TIG has an obligation on the individuals convicted of genocide or crimes against humanity and classified in second category by Gacaca courts, to perform while under house arrest, unpaid work of public interest as an alternative penalty to imprisonment and this in a relevant institution.


TIG is a French abbreviations meaning Community Service as an alternative penalty to imprisonment.TIG is provided by the law establishing Gacaca courts. This sentence refers to convicts classified in the second category by Gacaca courts who have recourse confessions, guilt plea, repentance and apologies for the offences.

Convicts under this category spend half of their sentence in community services carrying out developmental projects.
TIG is a new way of punishment reinforcing the unity and reconciliation among Rwandans and contributing to the reconstruction of the country.

TIG has been introduced in the Rwanda penal code and established by the Presidential Order No-10/01 of 07/03/2005 as reviewed and amended to date.


Community services are performed by those sentenced to it by the Gacaca courts in a place provided by the law and supervised by competent organs.

Community services are being profitable by the whole community (common interest)

Community services shall not constitute a burden to the government.


1. National committee of TIG
2. Executive secretariat of TIG
3. District committees
4. Sector committees

The executive secretariat of TIG has recently been merged with National Prisons Service under a new institution named Rwanda Correctional Services (RCS) which is expected to be operational in the near future.

I toured primary sites in a couple of hours, as well as a camp compound where large orange tents provide living quarters for the tigistes. By the end of the day I had seen every aspect of housing construction for genocide survivors. The project has given hope for the vulnerable people got a place they call home.

“I used to rent a house I called my home which was beyond my earning capacity and never dreamt of having a place I call my home” one of the beneficiaries narrated

The tigistes mines raw materials from dirt for bricks, to clay for moulding roofing tiles, to earthen materials used to make the hard concrete pads that serve as foundations for the houses, and the smooth adobe that covers and seals the brick walls. Each process began with digging earth.


The Rwandan government believes that TIG as one of the best way to blend justice and reconciliation, helping to ease confessed killers back into Rwandan society. Reintegration, skill training, re-education and sensitization are part of the TIG design.

Row by row new homes are being built for genocide survivors by genocide convicts

The productivity of TIG works from 2005-2008: during this period the works has allowed the government to pocket production worthy Rwf 12,662,947,176.

By mid 2009 the productivity of TIG works was worthy Rwf 4.455.085.930.

And according to reports Rwf 1.604.114.697, production value in the East African budget. All that works contributes to the realisation of EDPRS and MDGs

Where the Tigists worked on terracing development in the government program of enhancing green revolution, the agriculture production has almost doubled or tripled.

The genocide convicts contributed in the construction of roads which links sectors and cell levels of local government. They also contributed in the construction of classrooms and dormitory in Sector of Tare in Rulindo District.

Upon completion of their sentences they leave with a number of skills to help them earn a living when integrated into the wider society.


- Convicts who complete their sentences receive a certificate of fulfilment and return home

- Convicts distributed  in different TIG work camps receive essential basic materials while they are carrying out their sentence, food and drugs, security, water, working tools, hygiene materials, coordination tem and others.

- The community service is carried out in respect of universal declaration of human rights and other human rights instruments: working hours, praying, breaks.

In their own testimonies convicts confirm that life in prison is too hard and different from the one of TIG. They also agree that TIG as punishment is not proportional to offences committed.

Convicts carrying out their sentence in different camps receive newspapers and sometimes get access to TV and Radios depending on the time available.

Raw materials for brick-making are excavated from hillside soil. The impact of TIG is visible both in social, economic, justice and reconciliation aspects.


They are allowed to frequent visits in work camps, Over 11,097 convicts have completed their sentence and reintegrated into society. They are trained in basic literacy skills and also it their right to get regular voluntary HIV-AIDS test control.


Works of general service (TIG) is a real way of correctional and reintegration perpetrators and productivity from TIG projects which have contributed to the transformation of the national development and the growth of domestic incomes.


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