Rights commission calls for decongestion of prisons

Female inmates attend classes. File

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has called on the government to decongest the country’s correctional facilities, an issue that it says continues to impede the rights of the prisoners.

This was contained in a report by the commission on the state of human rights in the country where it tackled different indicators on sections of Rwandans in different categories.

The report looked at specific rights including right to education, health, justice and freedoms of expression, media freedom, access to information and expression and freedom of assembly and religion.

Presenting the 2018/2019 annual report, the commission’s Chairperson; Madeleine Nirere told lawmakers that her team had visited the country’s 14 prisons in the country and the most prevalent issue they found was congestion.

Some inmates were found with nowhere to sleep.

In total, there are 70,152 prisoners in all the country’s correctional facilities.

“In Rwamagana prison, some inmates have nowhere to sleep and in other cases, many people have to share beddings. In Musanze prison, some have nowhere to sleep and end up sleeping under beds and in corridors due to lack of enough space,” she said.

The commission also found that in the women’s wing in Musanze prison, the issue of congestion was causing aeration issues, something that is deemed risky since it is home to young children who are in with their mothers.

Meanwhile, the commission faulted government institutions for slow progress in implementing the recommendations made over the previous years.

The commission says that as many as 598 recommendations made in the fiscal year 2016/17, representing 39.14 per cent, were yet to be implemented.

About this year’s report

In 2018/2019, the Commission received and investigated 1,328 human rights cases. Of these 473 (35.62 percent) were new while 855 (64.38 percent) were carried forward from the previous year.

Of these, investigations into 1,081 cases (81.40 percent) were completed and forwarded to necessary institutions. 864 (79.93 percent) were solved while 217 (20.07 percent) are pending.

Of the cases received, 338 (25.45 percent) are property related, 280 (21.08 percent), are justice related, 236 (17.77 percent) are related to defilement, 125 (9.41 percent) are related to education, custody related ones are 56 (4.22 percent) and the right to being written in birth certificate books were 53 (3.99 percent).


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