The United Nations Special Court for Sierra Leone has said that Sierra Leonean war crimes convicts serving their sentences in Rwanda were being treated in accordance with international standards.
The affirmation was made by the court’s Outreach and Public Affairs Chief, Peter C. Andersen, in an email message to The New Times.
He was reacting to claims published in Sierra Leonean newspaper, The Exclusive, alleged that the prisoners wanted the court to review their detention conditions because they were being treated badly, and instead relocate them to another country to complete their prison terms.
Currently, eight Sierra Leonean war crime prisoners sentenced by the Special Court are serving their respective sentences at Mpanga Prison in the Southern Province.
The Registrar General, Binta Mansaray, subsequently came to Rwanda on an inspection tour and filed her report.
“Based on our assessment, the Special Court is satisfied with the implementation of the sentence enforcement agreement, and with the excellent cooperation of the Rwandan authorities,” Anderson said in the email.
The court’s delegation met and held talks with the prisoners who expressed dissatisfaction over new procedures put in place to access supplies like milk, Ovaltine chocolate, sardines, sugar, juice, toiletries, among others, as well as the enforcement of protocols for their use of the telephone.
“The prisoners interpreted these procedures, which are in line with international standards, as violations of their rights, and asked to be transferred to Pademba Road Prison in Freetown,” said Anderson.
“We concluded that there are no human rights abuses, and that the prisoners’ complaints stem from their resistance to the introduction of new procedures, and their unwillingness to adapt to prison life”.
“We would like to express our thanks and gratitude to the Rwandan Government and to the Rwanda Correctional Service for their assistance during our visit, and for their work which has ensured the success of the bi-lateral enforcement agreement with the Special Court,” Anderson added.
Prior to the Registrar General’s visit, the Commissioner General of the Rwanda Correctional Service (RCS) Paul Rwarakabije, had also strongly criticised the prisoners’ claims and instead said that they receive ‘extraordinary’ care.
Rwarakabije noted that Rwanda had essentially provided all it was required of by the MoU, adding that the prisoners had been provided with extra incentives.
“The prisoners are frequently visited by their relatives. These are international prisoners and we treat them in a special manner,” said Rwarakabije.
He added that the Sierra Leonean prisoners have access to telephone and special meals.
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.