The Rwanda Correctional Service (RCS) has refuted claims by Sierra Leone war crime prisoners that they are not accorded standard care and instead, saying they receive ‘extraordinary’ care.
The Commissioner General of RCS, Paul Rwarakabije, said that the government had essentially provided all it was required of by the MoU, adding that the prisoners had been provided extra incentives.
He was reacting to a series of media reports published in Sierra Leone’s The Exclusive newspaper, that the prisoners want the Special Court to review their MoU with Rwanda and instead be relocated to another country to continue with the rest of their terms.
“Prisoners will always complain, but the fact is we have accorded them more than what we are required. They are frequently visited by their relatives and are also accorded conjugal rights. These are international prisoners and we treat them in a special manner,” said Rwarakabije.
He added that the Sierra Leon prisoners have access to telephone and special meals.
“We know and we have heard of their claims, but we are always in touch with the court which usually sends its representatives to visit the prisoners. There is a team from the special court which is in the country and will be visiting them soon,” said the prisons boss.
Currently, eight Sierra Leonean war crime prisoners sentenced by the United Nations Special Court are serving their respective sentences at Mpanga Prison in the Southern Province
The eight who were transferred to Rwanda in 2009 are Issa Sesay, Morris Kallon, Alex Tamba Brima, Santigie Borbor Kanu, Ibrahim Bazzy Kamara, Augustine Gboa, Musa Kondowa and Moinina Fofana.
Kallon, who is serving a 45 year sentence, told Sierra Leonean newspaper that “Despite the international training provided for the Rwandan officers, they keep mistreating us”.
According to sources, the government spends Rwf 17 million annually on health insurance of the prisoners.
The prisoners are insured with SORAS insurance company, according to the source, who said that they receive their medical treatment from King Faisal Hospital, Kigali, where they go for regular checkups.
Sources also say that Rwanda hired a chef specialised in West African food to cook for the prisoners, contrary to claims by the convicts that they have failed to adapt to East African food.
Rwanda also set up a fully furnished house close to the prison where wives of the prisoners stay for two months and visit their husbands every day from 10:00am to 03:00pm.
“The prisoners are entitled to an allowance of US$150 every month for communication. They are supposed to use the money to call their families and relatives,” sources added.
However, officials say that the prisoners abused the communication funds by calling the media back in Sierra Leona and smeared the Rwandan government claiming that it had mistreated them.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that the prisoners want to be relocated to Europe so that their wives can seek asylum in the host countries under the guise of being near their husbands.