n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - 'The prison should not be an island' : the role of civil society in post-conflict correctional reform in Rwanda

Special Edition 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Following the 1994 Genocide, the Rwandan government was faced with an unprecedented crisis within its prison system with over 120 000 prisoners being held in conditions that could only be described as inhumane. Over the past 20 years, conditions have improved through various government national unity and reconciliation and correctional reform initiatives, but what role did civil society play? This article begins by situating correctional reform and civil society within the larger peacebuilding rule of law and transitional justice framework before outlining the Rwandan context. A qualitative exploratory approach is then utilised to identify the role of civil society in post-conflict correctional reform in Rwanda. Twenty-two semi-structured interviews were conducted with government as well as international and local NGO officials involved in correctional reform in Rwanda since 1994. Participant interviews revealed that correctional reform activities conducted by civil society in Rwanda fell within three areas: peacebuilding and reconciliation; monitoring and advocacy and operational partnership and support. The importance of civil society's involvement in post-conflict correctional reform in Rwanda was also identified; including that Rwandan civil society shares ownership in the aftermath of the genocide, such as the reintegration and rehabilitation of those that caused the harm. In addition, challenges and best practices are identified as well as policy and practice implications.

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