Over 9,000 detainees in prisons built for 4194 people

The International Committee of the Red Cross-ICRC in partnership with the Ministry of Justice has launched this July 16, 2018 a two month-campaign called “Tous solidaires avec les prisonniers” to plead for prisoners.

Around 60% of prisoners in Burundi are still waiting for trial

Around 60% of prisoners in Burundi are still waiting for trial

“Eleven Burundian prisons expected to host 4194 prisoners currently shelter 9901 prisoners,” says Gervais Hajayandi, Director General of Prisons.

Mr Hajayandi says high numbers in jails constitutes the root cause of other problems prisoners are often faced with. “The fact that prisons are overcrowded causes the lack of some rights that prisoners were supposed to have such as the rights to food, health insurance, clothing…It becomes difficult to satisfy the needs of prisoners because they are too many,” he says.

He says such a situation causes a shortage of staff members in different prisons. “There are 240 staff members at the administration level. Among them, 40 work at the central level and the remaining 200 are spread in 11 prisons sheltering over 9 thousand detainees. This is a very difficult task,” says Hajayandi,

“This is what caused the administration to give the responsibility to some detainees, “capita”, to help prevent disorder in prisons”. Unfortunately, this is not a good solution because it sometimes causes problems as some of them want to abuse their responsibility, he adds.

Nazim Ayadat, protection coordinator at ICRC, calls on Burundi to improve living conditions in prisons. “A prison should be a comfortable place where people go to be re-educated not to be punished. Like other people, prisoners have their rights which should be respected”.

Mr. Ayadat says prisoners in detention awaiting trial represent around 60% of all detainees “what is common in different countries” according to him. He suggests some strategies to regulate the situation. “The government should adopt some strategies like legal aid, adopting other detention alternative of detention and encouraging community services instead of imprisonment. This would decrease the number of detainees in prisons,” he says adding that a study to see the root causes of these high numbers of detainees in jails is also necessary.

Among the 9901 detainees, 5681 still await trial and 4121 are convicted detainees.

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