PARLIAMENT - The Chamber of Deputies, on Thursday, finally passed a bill that eliminates solitary confinement as a punitive measure. This follows a series of debates between both chambers of parliament that lasted almost a year.
“We had initially passed the bill that included the isolation clause, but when it reached the Senate, it was reversed basing on a number of issues,” said MP Evariste Kalisa.
Subsequently, a joint committee with members from both Houses was established to come up with a clear position, which, according to Kalisa, agreed to do away with the clause.
“We realized that imprisonment in isolation was contrary to international treaties regarding human rights. For that matter, we agreed to remove the word ‘isolation’ in the legislation.”
After tabling the proposals from the joint committee, MPs unanimously passed the bill.
The bill, referred to as ‘Life imprisonment with special provisions’, is punishment for persons convicted for committing crimes like torture resulting into death, murder, performing human derogatory acts on a dead body, the crime of genocide and other crimes against humanity.
Other crimes listed in the bill include acts of terrorism resulting into the death of people, child sexual abuse, and sexual torture.
The bill states that the rights of the sentenced person to life imprisonment with special provisions shall be respected all the time and the sentenced person shall be protected against any form of torture and cruel, inhuman and other degrading treatment.
“The person serving life imprisonment with special provisions shall have the right to get out of the cell to move to a spacious place to enjoy a breath of fresh air inside the prison enclosures,” reads part of the bill.
It also adds that; “without prejudice to public order, the person serving life imprisonment with special provisions may be visited by his/her immediate family members on days and hours and under conditions determined by the prison management.”
It also states that a person serving life imprisonment with special provisions shall be authorized to perform research, artistic and cultural activities.