Catholic Church pleas for early release of vulnerable repentant genocide perpetrators
Written by: George Kalisa
Wednesday, April 10th, 2019, 12:06
The Catholic Episcopal Conference of Rwanda in a letter have asked the Rwandan government to consider early release for both aged and ailing genocide perpetrators still serving jail sentences. The letter which is signed by all Bishops and read in Churches contains the commemoration message of 25th anniversary of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. Catholics constitute over 80% of the Rwandan population.
They, however, argued the genocide convicts to be remorseful and ask for forgiveness from the 1994 survivors in order to receive early release stipulated in the unity and reconciliation policy that dates back in 2003 when the convicts received early release for the first time following their remorse.
“Yes, the Bishops wrote a letter,” Rev. Fr. Pierre-Celestin Rwirangira of the Butare Diocese has confirmed to The Light Magazine today.
“As a Church we have for the last 25 years been encouraging those who played a role in the genocide to repent and ask for forgiveness from the genocide survivors, the Church thanks the survivors that forgave because giving forgiveness came along with peace among them,” reads the letter in parts [redacted].
“However, we cannot ignore the fact that some genocide convicts in prison are old and others are sick and urgently need help by reducing their punishment through the amnesty provided for by the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC),” and it’s absurd that families of some stopped to visit them (…)
In response to the letter, Dr. Jean-Damascene Bizimana, the Chief of the National Commission for the fight against genocide (CNLG) said.
“Besides killing the Tutsis in 1994, many of the old convicts had participated in the killings of the Tutsis in 1959, 1963, 1973. I, thus, see them as venom in society and suggest they continue to be rehabilitated in prison” reported local media today.
IBUKA [survivors’ association] has criticized the Church stressing request would not have been made during the commemoration period.
“Following the laws is paramount and the vulnerable genocide convict have before been released upon the pardon of the President the Republic, H.E President Paul Kagame. So, we basically have no problem with the Church’s request but it’s misplaced in the period of KWIBUKA”. [Redacted].
Rwanda repeatedly accused the Catholic Church of complicity in genocide and in 2017 when Pope Francis apologized for the role of the Church in genocide in 2017.