A cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame on Friday June 7, granted parole to 788 eligible convicts.
The convicts will be released under a ministerial order. The convicts had been serving sentence for various offences, largely criminal.
According to Justice Minister, Johnston Busingye, eligibility includes serving a quarter of one’s sentence, reform and good conduct, undertaking not to re-offend.
“We welcome them back and urge family and friends to help so they reform for good,” the Minister said on his twitter account on Saturday morning.
The development has been received with mixed feelings.
At first, the public expressed worry that genocide convicts could be among those pardoned.
The Minister dismissed it and said no genocide is on the list of beneficiaries.
Even still, the public expressed concern that eligibility for parole is not enough without repentance.
“All [of them] should pass through National Itorero Commission to study about Indangagaciro (values). Otherwise sending those people in the society might be more dangerous than you can imagine. For instance family receivers should also have been prepared psychologically,” David Eugene Marshall commented on the Minister’s twitter post.
Minister Busingye differed and assured the public that the parole and re-integration of the convicts into society had been thought through.
“We invest heavily in the reform and transformation of each individual convict in the ongoing penitentiary reforms. Values, skills, civic responsibility, respect for law and order are key,” the minister said, adding that, “It’s our strategy to reduce recidivism. We trust all will be well.”
The release of these convicts comes after a recent pardoning of 2,140 other convicts in September 2018, including embattled politician Victoire Ingabire and musician Kizito Mihigo.
The President also made a surprise pardoning of hundreds of girls and women who had been jailed for abortion.
After the announcement of the presidential prerogative in April this year, the women were expected to be released immediately.
Meanwhile, a more unpleasant development is the dismissal of military and police officers from duty.
The Commander in Chief dismissed “without notice” 322 officers and men from the Rwanda Defence Forces and the Rwanda National Police.
However, such dismissals have previously been a result of corruption and misconduct.