It was all joy yesterday for 220 inmates at Nsinda Prison in Rwamagana District, Eastern Province, after they learnt that their request for parole had been granted.
A week after the Cabinet announced that up to 1,667 inmates, countrywide, would be released after meeting minimum parole conditions, the Rwanda Correctional Services (RCS), yesterday, swung into action to implement the decision.
The exercise was officially launched by Commissioner General of RCS, Paul Rwarakabije.
Those released demonstrated good behaviour and discipline while serving their sentences.
Speaking to The New Times, an emotional Josephine Mukandayisenga, one of the convicts who received clemency, said: “I don’t know what to say and where to begin because I am so happy to have been finally set free and I thank God for this because I was missing my family so much.”
Notable among those that received news of their release yesterday are two former district mayors Robert Kashemeza (Nyagatare) and Vianney Murego (Gatsibo), both of whom had been incarcerated at Nsinda prison for embezzlement.
“On behalf of my colleagues, we are very pleased to have been pardoned and want to extend our appreciation to the government of Rwanda in general, and to the President in particular,” Kashemeza said.
He had been sentenced to three years and had served two years and two months.
“I am so excited because I am going to join my family, relatives and friends. We have learnt a lot during our stay in prison and I am optimistic that this will enable us to serve as exemplary citizens back in our respective communities....” Kashemeza added.
Speaking to The New Times, Murego promised to abide by the conditions of release.
“This conditional release exercise is a sign of good governance and I encourage my colleagues who have been released today not to disappoint the government and society by getting involved in any form of crime,” the former mayor said.
Rwarakabije disclosed to The New Times that more than 3,000 inmates had applied for parole, but only 1,667 met the minimum requirements.
He said that for an inmate to qualify for parole they must have served at least a quarter of their sentence and demonstrated total discipline.
He noted that the exercise of releasing the inmates which begun at Nsinda prison will continue today in other 12 prisons across the country.
Those to be released do not include convicts of terrorism, Genocide, crimes against humanity, defilement or sexual torture.
The official gazette, published on November 25, stipulates that those released shall not be allowed to go beyond the borders of the country, unless they are authorised by prosecution authorities closest to their area of residence.
The gazette also indicates that the paroled convicts will be required to report to the courts or at the prosecution authorities in their respective areas on the last Friday of every month.