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Prisoners can now be released early, on good behavior – new law order

Incomplete investigations and delayed prosecutions have been contributing to the growing population of inmates in Rwanda’s 12 prisons. A prison population list by the World Prison Brief in 2022 ranked Rwanda second with the highest prison population rate in the world.

The report indicated that there are 580 prisoners per 100,000 people after the United States which has 629 prisoners per 100,000 the national population.

For years, Rwanda has been working on law reforms to tackle the issue. The latest effort was a law reform that will ease parole requirements where inmates can get out of prison after serving a quarter of their sentence. 

Parole is the release of a prisoner before the expiry of a sentence, on the promise of good behavior. Before the adjustments, inmates would apply for parole after serving two-thirds of their jail terms.

The reformed law was published in the public gazette on December 4, with the changes relating to different features of the judicial system, including release on parole.

Human rights organizations now claim that the country’s justice system prioritizes imprisonment over justice and correction. They say prosecution and investigative authorities rush to put people in prisons which leads to overpopulation in prisons.

Inmates who are serving jail terms that are longer than five years can apply for parole after accomplishing a third of them, while those serving life sentences can apply for parole after spending 15 years in correctional facilities.

The released individuals must comply with specific conditions until the time of the sentence they were serving elapses.

For an inmate to qualify for parole, they need to write to the Minister of Justice requesting it. A specific committee decides who qualifies for the conditional release.

They must report to the Prosecutor at the primary level of their residence, Public Prosecution Office as well as at the Cell, Sector, and District of their residence within fifteen days from the date of their release.

They must also appear before the prosecutors at the same levels once a month on a day fixed by the Prosecutor at the primary level.

The new reform applies to inmates in all the 12 prisons. The prisons accommodate over 80,000 inmates. The most prevalent crimes include intentional assault and battery, child defilement, and drug tracking, according to the Public Prosecution. 

According to the new law order, release on parole can be revoked due to reasons, such as, when the beneficiary of the release on parole is sentenced in a non-appealable judgment for another offense.

A person whose release on parole is revoked serves the term of imprisonment that was remaining at the time release on parole was granted.

Also in case of notorious misconduct of the beneficiary or breach of one of the conditions set for them to fulfill, the parole can be revoked.


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