The construction of Nyagatare Children Rehabilitation Centre has been completed. The centre is expected to accommodate 161 child inmates between the ages of 14 and 18.
It was commissioned on Wednesday by ministers Sheikh Musa Fazil Harerimana, (internal security), Oda Gasinzigwa (Gender and Family promotion), and Maj. Gen. Paul Rwarakabije, the Commissioner General of Rwanda Correctional Services (RCS).
The facility set up within Nyagatare correctional centre will accommodate 155 boys and three girls convicted of various crimes. It will provide secondary education and vocational training to the juveniles, officials said.
Minister Gasinzinga said the centre will help children return to communities as rehabilitated persons. She, however, asked parents to monitor the conduct of their children so they do not commit crimes.
“Even though we have such a good facility, it shouldn’t be the place for your child,” she said.
“The government remains committed to shaping children into useful citizens. The centre thus offers such an opportunity. The children will be rehabilitated and educated so that they rejoin society not as liabilities, but resourceful persons,” she said.
Maj. Gen. Rwarakabije said the centre was part of restorative justice and it will serve as a catalyst for the correction service to achieve its vision for transformation.
The centre was built by the Government of Rwanda with the support from Unicef and DiDe (Dignity in Detention) at a cost of Rwf634 million.
DiDe was formed in 1992 by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to help improve the conditions of detention and give priority to minors and women.
A DiDe official, André Wavre, applauded the Rwanda correctional services’ care for juvenile convicts, pledging that his organisation will offer the facilities needed.
“This is a very positive development. The children will benefit a lot from the education. It will transform them into better citizens,” he said.
Fred Atuhe Sabiti, the mayor of Nyagatare District, said the centre came as a relief to communities that had been terrorised by criminal gangs.
“Some children left prison only to repeat similar crimes. That they can now get education and skills to make them different persons is great news for us,” he said.
Adult inmates at the correctional centre were transferred to other prisons to pave way for the child inmates.