The decision by the Registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, (ICTR) Adama Dieng to grant prisoners – those serving their sentences or awaiting trial – might seem to be a humane act at first glance, but it has raised so much dust that it will take time to settle.
It is reported that he first turned down the request to have “special rooms” for the detainees, saying it was “not African” and might appear unfair to the Tanzanian common law prisoners.
Now the Registrar has backtracked and in doing so has opened a can of worms in his backyard, beyond the wall that separates his high profile prisoners and the petty criminals serving their sentences under the Tanzanian law.
The “low class” prisoners do not have the benefit of the international community –through the UN – footing the bill for each of their whims, but they have every reason to complain.
But who would not? The whiff of five-star-like aroma sailing over the wall in what has been termed the “Arusha Hilton” could make any sane prisoner living under the conditions of Third World prisons go insane.
The murmurs of discontent arise from the fact that some of the poor “Tanzanian” prisoners are serving time for petty offences and are paying dearly for it.
But the Arusha Hilton is home to people convicted – or are likely to be – of one of the most heinous crime to be committed, and the world is paying through the nose for their upkeep.
In the ideal world, every prison should be like the Hilton, but unfortunately that is not the case. In the ideal world, the Hilton would not serve to propagate “foreign”, or in the eyes of some Africans, “immoral” practices.