Rwanda: Govt Tightens Screening of Returnees From DR Congo

The screening of people repatriated from DR Congo is thorough and fair, Fred Nyamurangwa, a Commissioner at the Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (RDRC), has said, emphasising the need to separate criminals from innocent returnees.

Nyamurangwa's comments come after a woman who was recently repatriated from eastern DR Congo along with hundreds of other dependents of anti-Rwanda militia was immediately sent to jail for her role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

He acknowledged that Angeline Mukandutiye who had an unserved Gacaca life sentence was identified less than 24 hours upon arrival when she appeared in the media and people who knew her dark past raised the red flag.

But this, he stressed, does not mean that teams carrying out screening fell short in doing their job properly.

"When they were received that weekend, journalists were there and that's why it immediately got to the media and she was quickly identified," Nyamurangwa noted, indicating that screening was continuing.

Last month, the government started screening and giving necessary support to 1,100 children and 371 women sent home from neighbouring DR Congo after being separated from anti-Rwanda militia based there.

The returnees arrived on December 20, and are being accommodated at Nyarushishi Transit Centre in Rusizi District.

Nyamurangwa explained that the screening team - which comprises of local government officials, Rwanda National Police, Rwanda Investigation Bureau, the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide and RDRC - carefully separates militia fighters from their civilian dependants, women and children.

"All our people here meet and examine case by case... we all collaborate in this exercise. When we all meet and screen, we know who was a fighter and that's how we ended up putting the militia fighters aside," he said.

"The screening is done correctly, and most importantly, is also fair. Fighters go where they are supposed to be and civilian dependants, their wives and children, are here in Nyarushishi."

The screening exercise is expected to end soon and beginning Monday they will start a comprehensive rehabilitation programme.

Earlier, Prof. Anastase Shyaka, the Minister for Local Government, told The New Times that the rehabilitation programme includes citizen awareness on processes of reconciliation, social cohesion and the course of modern Rwanda as well as their role and responsibilities as citizens.

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