BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Somali Swahili French Great Lakes Hausa Portugeuse
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
    You are in: Africa  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 7 January, 2003, 10:53 GMT
Anger at release of Rwandan killers
Skulls of massacred Rwandans
An estimated 800,000 people died in the genocide
Organisations representing survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide are unhappy with a plan to free thousands of people who have pleaded guilty to participating in the genocide but have not yet been tried.

A spokesman for one of the groups, Ibuka, told the BBC that witnesses could be intimidated.

MASS RELEASE
Those who have pleaded guilty
Elderly
Seriously ill
Minors
30-40,000 people
Not ringleaders

But a judicial official has tried to assuage their fears by saying that security would be tightened in court and counselling provided.

On 1 January, the government announced that those who had pleaded guilty, along with the elderly, minors and the seriously ill, would be freed on bail until their cases are heard in court.

Some 800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were killed in 100 days between April and June 1994.

Some people were alarmed at the measure, believing it to be an amnesty but the justice ministry has confirmed that those set free will still be tried.

Traditional justice

Justice Minister Jean de Dieu Mucyo said that between 30,000 and 40,000 people, not those who organised the genocide, would be freed.

Rwanda's prisons are currently massively overcrowded with some 120,000 people awaiting trial for genocide.

In another attempt to reduce prison overcrowding, the government is using the traditional "Gacaca" justice system, where local communities judge suspects.

On Sunday, genocide survivors held meetings with the authorities in a bid to prevent the mass liberation.

The government refused to reverse its policy, so Ibuka asked for increased protection for witnesses and additional counsellors for people who may be traumatised by seeing those who killed their relatives walking free.

Rwanda orphan
Thousands of children were orphaned in the genocide

But the prosecutor-general, Gerald Gahima, said that although no protection would be provided for individuals as such, security would be tightened in court to ensure greater confidence for survivors and witnesses.

He also said extra counselling services would be provided.

Mr Gahima said that the move, however unpopular, had been necessary for logistical reasons.

"It is impossible to try hundreds of thousands of people through ordinary courts," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

"No legal system was ever devised to deal with cases where the majority of members of society participated in atrocities.

"We estimate that if a million people died, another million or two million people had a role in what happened. It would be impossible to try and punish all these people," he said.


Key stories

Background

FORUM
See also:

15 Aug 02 | Africa
24 Jul 02 | Africa
25 Nov 02 | Africa
19 Jun 02 | Africa
18 Jun 02 | Africa
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Africa stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes