Presidential pardon receivers face problems to reintegrate into their community.

From social discrimination to failure to behave like other society members, Presidential pardon receivers struggle to reintegrate into their communities. Activist for prisoners’ rights worries about the situation.

Jean Marie Nshimirimana: “Released persons struggle to reintegrate into their communities”.

Jean Marie Nshimirimana: “Released persons struggle to reintegrate into their communities”.

The released people sometimes face social discrimination. They are most of the time considered as criminals. “It is really difficult for a person who was convicted of a crime to reintegrate into the society which is not prepared to receive them. People always see the released person as a criminal and will always suspect them,” says Jean Marie Nshimirimana, Legal representative of SPF-Ntabariza, a local NGO fighting for prisoners’ rights.

He says some of the receivers of the presidential pardon are not understood and are even persecuted by the local administration. He gives an example of two people who were released in Bugabira commune of Kirundo province but are already summoned to appear in court. “Ntabariza-SPF association is conducting an inquiry into Kirundo judiciary to know more details about the case”.

Nshimirimana also says some freed people fail to conform to the society’s norms and are brought back to prison. “In Ngozi Province for example, two people who were released thanks to the presidential pardon stole a cow and were jailed again”.

He appeals to the population to welcome these presidential pardon beneficiaries in their communities and help them reintegrate instead of discriminating them.

The legal representative of SPF-Ntabariza also calls on administrative officials, judges and magistrates to objectively deal with the complaints they receive and always treat the released people like others.

Over 2800 detainees have recently obtained the presidential pardon throughout the country. Some of them have already been released and others’ cases are being studied.