Human Right

Burundian prisons are overcrowded, Direction of prisons says

In the context of the celebration of Mandela Day, the General Direction of Penitentiaries in Burundi-DGAP has said jails are overcrowded compared to the number of prisoners they should receive.

Aloys Habonimana (on the left) says prisons in Burundi are overcrowded

Over 10,000 people are detained in Burundian prisons. “In Burundi we have 11 prisons, two detention centers for small children, 7 dungeons and all of them have the capacity to host only 4194 people,” says Aloys Habonimana, the legal and administrative director of prisons in Burundi

Among the 11 prisons, Mpimba prison located in the south of the Burundian capital is more overcrowded than others. “It counts around 4,000 prisoners whereas it has the capacity to host only 800 people,” says Mr. Habonimana adding that this happens when infrastructures are still the same.

He says the fact that prisons are overcrowded brings about several consequences. “As DGAP has a small budget, the personnel is not enough compared to the number of prisoners. In addition, there is likelihood of promiscuity among prisoners and it’s very easy for diseases to spread among them.”
Mr. Habonimana suggests that prisoners who are guilty of minor crimes be released. “Only people who have committed serious crimes such as causing insecurity, embezzlement of public funds, etc. could stay in jail,” he says adding that all actors in the legal domain should work together to reduce prisons’ overcrowding.

The International Committee of the Red Cross-ICRC in Burundi supports the government in handling jail overcrowding. “We collaborate with DGAP on the activities related to the rehabilitation of infrastructures, the drainage of waste water, health care for detained people, etc.,” says Philippe Beauverd, Head Delegation at ICRC in Burundi adding that they support DGAP with hygienic materials.
He also says ICRC is trying to propose alternative sentences for people who commit minor crimes for the first time to reduce prisons overcrowding.

The Nelson Mandela International Day, also known as Mandela Day is celebrated on July 18th every year to remember Mandela’s achievements in working towards conflicts resolution, democracy, human rights, peace and reconciliation.