Rwanda: Week-long prison tour captures press attention

APA - Kigali (Rwanda)

The just concluded tour made by Rwanda's Justice Minister and Attorney General Johnston Busingye, made newspaper headlines in Rwanda this week.

"Inmates push for access to higher  learning" was the title of 'The New Times', reporting that prisoners at Nyarugenge prison in Kigali city, commonly known as  Mageragere, have requested that they are facilitated to further their studies in universities and other tertiary institutions.

Representatives of inmates to the visiting delegation of Rwandan justice officials argued that this would allow them a better chance in life, once they are released after serving their sentences.

Rwanda's official delegation visit was aimed at discussing with the inmates on the state of their welfare and all they need to make them better people once they  are back to their communities having served time in jail.

In another headline, the private daily '  The Chronicles' screamed 'Genocide Convicts In Just One Kigali Jail  Reveal Over 120 New Mass Graves'.

It also reported that genocide convicts in Mageragere prison, the biggest in Kigali, have pinpointed 126 locations they say have mass graves in which victims of the 1994  genocide against the Tutsi were buried.

The newspaper said that  during the genocide, rampaging civilian militias aided by government security forces killed people who had usually sought refuge in different places including homes and schools, and buried them in mass graves to hide the evidence. 

Some Tutsis were matched to their deaths and then all hacked to death, and put in mass graves.

According to the paper,  for the last 25 years, hundreds of mass graves have been exhumed (...)  but it seems, the exhumation may never end.

An an example, the  newspaper reported that last month, 104 victims were exhumed from a mass  grave outside a Catholic church in Cyanika sector, Nyamagabe district in Southern Rwanda. 

It reported that these were found by a woman working  in the garden on the site.

If indeed there is this number of  sites revealed by inmates at just Mageragere prison, yet there are more than 15 prisons in the country, it could mean thousands of more victims will come to light to be given descent burials, the newspaper said.

Reporting on the prison tour by Rwanda's Justice officials, The New Times wrote that apart from higher learning, Diane Umuhire, one of the leaders of the inmates, suggested that having committed crimes, they are in a better position to teach society about the consequences of criminality.

According  to 'The New Times' inmate representatives also expressed their wishes  that genocide convicts could participate in recounting to the younger  generations what really happened, an idea which was also shared by many  other inmates including those convicted for genocide.

During a visit to this maximum security prison located in the suburb of Kigali, Rwandan Justice Minister made the following statement, as reported by the newspaper: "“You are here because you broke the law...Jail time is a journey and the government of Rwanda wants you to leave here, as new different people.”


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