By Staff Reporter
Rwanda’s prisons are not congested like the case with most African correctional service which makes the idea of renting space from the central African country’s correctional services worthwhile for Uganda Prisons the Commissioner General of Prisons Johnson Byabashaija, has said.
Byabashaija, who was yesterday speaking at the fourth biennial conference of African Correctional Services Association (ACSA) in Kigali, said noted that Rwanda Correctional Service has not reached the state of warders scratching their heads over space constraints for inmates, noting that even on the issue of pre-trial detention, Uganda has 51.7 per cent, Tanzania 50 per cent, Kenya 43 per cent, while Rwanda only 6.3 per cent.
“Maybe I will ask Rwanda Correctional Service commissioner-general [George] Rwigamba to rent us some space,” Byabashaija, who is also the chairman of ACSA), said.
The prisons chief cited the case of the Netherlands that is helping Belgium buy renting space in Dutch prisons. The case of the Dutch prisons is a peculiar one. While much of the world struggles with overcrowded prisons, the Netherlands is short of people to lock up.
In the past few years, Dutch authorities have closed down over 20 prisons and more are slated for closure this year.
However, it is not yet clear how the Ugandan authorities would pull the prisons facility renting off if they decide to go for it as this news portal couldn’t readily reach Byabashaija to clarify on his comments.
Prisons chiefs challenged
Meanwhile, during the ACSA meeting, Rwandan Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi urged prisons chiefs to involve inmates in income generating activities, Rwandan daily The New Times reports..
Murekezi said ACSA’s mission and vision are very relevant to the entire African continent as the association seeks to transform and harmonise strategies of penal institutions in Africa towards a collective and homogeneous development of prisons.
“This is in line with the rebuilding of the self-reliance and dignity that we Africans are determined to achieve. It is also in line with the United Nations best practices that have to be aligned to our local context,” The New Times quotes Murekezi as saying in his opening remarks.
He noted today’s challenges that are found in almost all African correctional services, especially budget constraints and lack of enough qualified staff that hinders the achievement of ACSA mission.
“I would like to remind you all that involving prisoners in income generating activities is beneficial to the prisoners themselves, their correctional facilities and their countries,” the Rwandan premier said.
The five-day ACSA onference runs under the theme, “Building a Professional Correctional System in Africa: A Strategic Objective.”