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Rwanda frees 8,000 genocide prisoners despite retribution fears

[JURIST] Rwanda [JURIST news archive] released 8,000 prisoners implicated in the country's 1994 genocide [BBC backgrounder; HRW backgrounder] Monday in an effort to combat prison overcrowding and promote reconciliation. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] and genocide survivors' group Ibuka [advocacy website], among others, have denounced the prisoners' release, warning that could precipitate retribution and violence against genocide survivors. According to a recent HRW report [text, PDF], 13 genocide survivors were killed in November, ostensibly by released prisoners. Monday's release, first announced last month [JURIST report], excluded "key masterminds of the genocide" and also freed 1,000 prisoners convicted of crimes other than involvement in the genocide.

More than 60,000 additional genocide suspects have been released from prison since 2003. The 1994 Rwandan genocide resulted in the deaths of over 800,000 people. Reuters has more.

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