Release of over 1,600 prisoners begins today

Rwanda Correctional Services (RCS) will today begin effecting the decision by the cabinet to set free 1,667 civil and military prisoners after they demonstrated enough proof of good behaviour and serious guarantees of good social relations. On Friday, a cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame pardoned the individuals in line with article 237 of the penal code.

Rwanda Correctional Services (RCS) will today begin effecting the decision by the cabinet to set free 1,667 civil and military prisoners after they demonstrated enough proof of good behaviour and serious guarantees of good social relations.

On Friday, a cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame pardoned the individuals in line with article 237 of the penal code.

In an interview with The New Times, the Minister of Internal Security, Musa Fazil Harelimana, said that cabinet took the decision after it was convinced that the prisoners met all the conditions for conditional release.

“The inmates had at least served a quarter of their sentences and they demonstrated good behaviour or suffered from serious and incurable diseases,” he said.

He added that those released had written to the Minister of Justice requesting for the favour.

“The Ministry of Justice and Prosecution conducts an evaluation to find out whether these indeed deserve the pardon and then recommend to the cabinet,” Harelimana said.

He noted that after thorough evaluation, it was confirmed that the 1,667 could be accorded conditional release.

Harelimana, however, noted that those sentenced for Genocide or crimes against humanity, terrorism, defiling children or sexual torture, would not benefit from the pardon.

The minister noted that the penal code does not also accord the benefit of conditional release to persons who have committed crimes related to national security, treason and espionage and international crimes. 

The Commissioner General of RCS, Paul Rwarakabije, said that the prisons body would begin executing the cabinet order today.

“Once the cabinet decides, the decision is already a law and we will begin enforcing it tomorrow,” he said yesterday.

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