Psychosocial rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-prisoners into family and community

One of the concerns raised in sociotherapy groups, particularly in the context of Rwanda, includes the peaceful reintegration of genocide ex-prisoners back into families and communities and the repair of diverse forms of relational trauma. Gacaca offered most genocide suspects an opportunity to confess to genocide crimes in exchange for a reduced sentence. For community members, and in particular genocide survivors, the release of génocidaires may lead to increased trauma and anxieties regarding cohabitating and interaction with people who committed genocide crimes. Ex-prisoners often experience the fear of being confronted with genocide survivors and family members of these survivors and people killed during the genocide after their release and struggle with feelings of worthlessness, guilt, insomnia, depression, and a distorted self-image. Reintegration back into their families also comes with a diverse range of challenges. For instance, how does the younger generation respond to the history of a parent who has been accused of and/or tried for severe crimes and subsequently imprisoned for years?
In addition to continuing to be implemented in communities, CBS has also been implemented in prison to contribute to a peaceful reintegration after prisoners’ release. Sociotherapy sessions are facilitated by trained prisoners for their fellow prisoners. It was observed that psychological distress resulting from the crimes committed and the life in prison constrain prisoners from engaging themselves in reconciliation processes. While impoverished psychosocial well-being is likely to hamper processes of rehabilitation and reintegration, efforts that improve the psychosocial wellbeing of (ex-)prisoners is expected to contribute to the reestablishment of peaceful relationships across generations.

Besides the rehabilitation and reintegration process in Rwanda, Uganda will also be presented as a case study, with a particular focus on the reintegration of ex-combatants, including child soldiers, and its intergenerational effects.