About 3000 detainees to be released thanks to presidential pardon

At least 3000 detainees identified in 11 prisons of the country will be released in 2019 thanks to a presidential pardon, says the Minister of Justice.

Justice Minister (left) said will work with “Ntabariza” association (right) to fully integrate released detainees into their community

Aimée Laurentine Kanyana, Minister of Justice says some of the prisoners will be completely released while others will receive a partial release. “The presidential pardon comes to promote national reconciliation which is our daily struggle,” she says adding that the presidential pardon must have its accompanying measures for a better follow-up.

A permanent commission in charge of a close follow-up of the detainees has been set up to implement the measure in collaboration with the directors of different prisons. “The commission’s activities are underway,” she says. It has already identified the detainees to be released in 11 prisons located in the country.

The presidential pardon concerns detainees whose crimes have been sentenced to at least five years, some pregnant and breastfeeding women, women whose kids are aged under three and detainees aged over 70.

The decision also concerns some detainees living with an obvious handicap, mentally-ill detainees and those suffering from incurable diseases in advanced stage.

The Minister also said the detainees who finished three-quarters of their sentences and who demonstrated a good behavior in prisons and their offenses are less serious will be completely released.

Women who committed infanticide or carried out abortion will also be released if they have already served three years in jail.

Aimée Laurentine Kanyana also says Burundi government plans to follow them closely for their effective social integration. “Sensitization campaigns will be organized to facilitate their social integration into community and prevent them from being recidivists.”

Jean Marie Nshimirimana, Legal Representative of “Ntabariza”, an association fighting for the detainees’ rights says the measure should be implemented as soon as possible. He, however, says the competent authorities should be fair in making lists of detainees who will receive the presidential pardon. “There are some detainees who remained in prisons while they had obtained the presidential pardon,” he says.

He calls on the Justice Ministry and other partners to support the implementation of the presidential measure.

In 2018, over 700 detainees were released thanks to a presidential pardon and over 500 others had received a presidential pardon in 2017