GASABO - Legal experts from Commonwealth countries were yesterday impressed by Rwanda’s alternative sentencing that involves convicts in community work commonly known as TIG.
TIG signifies ‘alternative sentences for Rwanda’ where convicts who confessed their involvement in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi are given a chance to serve half of their maximum seven-year sentence outside prison doing community work.
The experts are in the country to discuss alternative sentencing and decongesting prison facilities in member states.
They expressed satisfaction after visiting one of the camps housing the convicts under the programme situated in Rutunga Sector, Gasabo District.
Speaking to The New Times, Lenson Njagi Njogu, who works with Legal Resources Foundation Trust in Kenya, commended the programme saying that it is closer to the people.
“This is real community work in Rwanda. It is closer to the people,” said Njogu. He added that it has produced tangible results like roads and classrooms.
Sarah Coleman, a legal advisor at the Commonwealth Secretariat, also commended TIG saying that it is one way of punishing while allowing convicts to reintegrate into society.
“It is what is needed, no matter how horrific the crimes they committed may be, they must be reintegrated into the society. It is the only way forward and I think Rwanda is doing it well,” said Coleman.
According to the coordinator of Rutunga camp, Francis Muhizi, the convicts have executed community work valued at close to Rwf 1 billion. They include construction of classrooms, roads and terraces among other things.
The camp was opened in 2006 with over 13,000 inmates. It currently has 270 with others having completed their sentences and returned home.
In his testimony, Thomas Gatabazi who is serving his term at the camp said that the alternative sentence has allowed him to think rightly.
“We have been able to participate in numerous activities that are helping the country to develop,” he said.