Kigali, 4 December 2007 (FH) - The Rwandan government will try, during December, to relieve congestion its over-crowded prisons, especially for persons accused of having played a part in the 1994 genocide, reports Tuesday an official source.

1 min 4Approximate reading time

"That is within the framework of the general policy of the country aiming to have relieved prisons", explained to the Hirondelle agency the Rwandan Minister of Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama.

The authorities will use, for that purpose, Work of General Interest (WGI), an alternative sentence to imprisonment, and parole, according to the minister.

In addition, will be released, persons who are very sick, vulnerable, said Karugarama; hoping that "the figures will considerably decrease".

He also announced that the Rwandan criminal code is in the process of a revision and that "one of the principal innovations consists of supporting alternative sentences to imprisonment".

"The new bill, which counts around 600 articles, was passed last week" by the Chamber of Deputies and "the project was sent to the concerned commission (parliamentary)", added Karugarama.

After examination in committee, this bill proposed by the Council of Ministers, will then be debated in plenary by the Chamber of Deputies before being sent to the Senate.

According to local human rights organizations, Rwandan prisons hold, at the end of May, around 90 000 prisoners, compared to 60 000 at the beginning of last year.

This increase is due to the judgments rendered by the gacaca courts charged with trying the majority of the alleged authors of the 1994 genocide.

Inspired by Rwandan tradition, the gacacas (pronounced gatchatcha), semi-traditional courts, are presided by non-professional magistrates, appointed among the community on the basis of the only criterion of integrity.

© Hirondelle News Agency