Three hundred thirty three Genocide convicts of Rutunga camp in Gasabo District were over the weekend trained on peace, unity, reconciliation and development.
The training was conducted by university students through their national reconciliation club, Students’ Club for Unity and Reconciliation (SCUR).
Speaking at the function held on Saturday, the leader of the group that visited the camp, Jackson Mudaheranwa, called upon the convicts play a leading role in peace promotion.
“We do our punishments willingly and happily because we know that what we did is not in anyway equivalent this kind of punishment. We also deserve to die and therefore we find this work as favour. We have to use this chance to become good citizens,”
Emmanuel Kanyandekwe, the head of Rutunga camp, said. Genocide suspects who confess their sins have their sentences halved and serve part of the remaining sentence through doing community development work.
The community service is spearheaded by Travaux d’Intérêt Général (TIG), a government institution charged which oversees convicts on such a programme, which is an alternative punishment for imprisonment.
“The district has many projects which need manpower, that’s why we have many camps here,” explained Blandine Nyiranshuti, the TIG coordinator in Gasabo District.
This particular camp which has been in place for fifteen months in Gasabo has seventeen women in it.
The district has since established three other camps and one is yet to be set up.
To qualify to these camps, a suspect must willingly accept responsibility in the 1994 Genocide and ask for forgiveness from all those who were directly or indirectly affected by their brutal actions.
“Simple health problems are treated here but in case of serious conditions we take them to a nearby health centre,” said Denitz Nishimwe, a nurse at the camp. “People here have leant not to do unacceptable things like stealing and misuse of their colleagues’ property. We prepare them to lead normal lives once they have left the camp,” Innocent Nkurunziza, who is in charge of discipline at this camp, said.