NYARUGENGE - A team from the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone (SC-SL) is currently on a country tour to assess the state of Rwandan prisons in anticipation of hosting the court’s convicts here.
The team comprises of specialists from the SC-SL detention centre.
The visit comes after Rwanda signed an agreement with the tribunal to host some of the convicts.
Speaking to The New Times after the group’s tour of Kigali Central Prison transit centre, the Director of Prisons Steven Balinda said that Rwanda has put in place several requirements that meet international standards of prisons.
“The new exotic holding cells built for several convicts who are yet to be transferred to Rwanda are well equipped and can hold eight prisoners who are in transit to the main prison,” Balinda said.
The new cells have been put up at Kigali Central Prison, commonly known as 1930.
Each room is 2.7x 3 metres with a television set, a library and washrooms for the occupant.
Director of the prison, Dativa Mukanyangezi, told the group that the transit centre has also put up several programmes to meet international correctional facility standards like anger management, health follow-ups and a standard system of handcuffing.
The team was also briefed that the prison has special caretakers of inmates with each convict taken care of by a team of specialists.
After their tour of Kigali Central Prison, the team headed to Mpanga Prison in the Southern Province from where the convicts are expected to serve their sentences.
The construction of Mpanga Prison is complete except for a 27-cell wing designated for possible ICTR transferees or foreign extradition suspects to serve their sentences.
Upon the completion, the prison will be capable of providing adequate detention facilities for all convicts to meet international standards.
The prison covers nearly 10 hectares on a plot of 72 hectares.
Later the team paid a visit to Kubumwe Enterprises, an industrial food processor who have been mandated to supply prisons with well prepared and nutritious food.
The director of the company, Dr Celestin Kubumwe , also revealed that that they have plans of expansion and also supply hotels, supermarkets and schools.
Speaking to The New Times on phone from Sierra Leone, Peter C. Andersen, Chief of Outreach and Public Affairs at the Special Court for Sierra Leone said that the team was in Rwanda to assess the standards of the prisons.
He however could not comment on Rwanda’s chances of hosting the convicts but hastened to add that Rwanda is the only African country that has signed an agreement of hosting prisoners with the SC-SL.
“The decision will only be taken by the president of the court depending on several reports that will he handed to him,” Andersen said.
So far, the other countries that have signed the agreements include Finland, Sweden and Austria.
The agreement signed by Rwanda and the court stipulates that in enforcing the sentence pronounced by the Special Court, Rwanda shall be bound by the duration of the sentence so pronounced and ensure the sentence is served in a prison facility identified and agreed to by the parties.
“The conditions of imprisonment shall be governed by the laws of the Government of Rwanda, subject to the supervision of the Special Court,” states the agreement.
The Special court for Sierra Leone was established by the Agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone signed on the January 16, 2002.
Currently, former Liberian President Charles Taylor is on trial by the Special Court.
Eight persons have been convicted by the two Trial Chambers of the court, haveive prisoners have so far been sentenced to terms ranging from 15 to 50 years, and three more are awaiting sentencing in Freetown.