The Minister for Internal Security, Fazil Musa Harerimana, on Thursday launched the nation’s first all-women correctional facility in Ngoma District.
The function was attended by Rwanda Correctional Services (RCS) chief, Maj. Gen. Paul Rwarakabije, his deputy Mary Gahonzire, among others.
The facility replaces the 1934 Prison that previously accommodated both men and women.
Female inmates in Nsinda correctional centre, Rwamagana District and Rilima correctional centre, Bugesera District were relocated to the Ngoma facility.
The women’s correctional centre accommodates a total of 583 inmates, 54 per cent of whom were convicted of genocide crimes while the rest were charged with common crimes.
At least 91 per cent of the inmates have been convicted while the rest are still being tried.
Addressing the inmates, residents and local leaders, Minister Harerimana said the facility was a landmark achievement.
“For the first time in Rwanda’s history, a facility is being established to solely accommodate women inmates. It is also in line with our commitment to move from prisons to correctional centres,” Harerimana said.
Women ask to keep their hair
The minister said the facility will further be improved to meet modern standards.
“Women criminals should not be treated like male criminals. Some women have children that need special treatment. Women just like children are vulnerable and need protection,” he said.
Reacting to requests from Primitiva Mukeshimana–who spoke on behalf of the inmates–that the prisoners be allowed to keep their hair, Harerimana said the law was not against it.
The prisoners further requested for official pardon, claiming that they had reformed and were ready to rejoin society.
“Cutting the hair of inmates is done for hygiene purposes. It will be discussed with RCS officials so that a solution is sought. You can have your hair on but consideration will first go to highly disciplined inmates,” Harerimana said, attracting applause from the prisoners.
“As for the amnesty and your reformation, just wait for the end of your sentence. Abortion, drug abuse, etc are wrongs that forced the law to isolate you. You had an opportunity to choose between right and wrong and you preferred the latter. So, you have to suffer the consequences,” Harerimana said.
Exclusive women correctional facilities of the kind will be built across the country. The number of women in Rwanda Correctional Centres stands at 3,479.