Human Right

Presidential pardon alone not enough to reduce jail overcrowding, lawyer says

More than 600 prisoners from Mpimba Central Prison in Bujumbura were released on 18 April 2019 following the execution of the presidential pardon decreed on 31 December 2018.

Over 600 prisoners from Mpimba Central Prison in Bujumbura were released following the execution of the presidential pardon

“This measure alone is not enough because the prison population remains very high in Burundi,” has said Salvator Minani, Deputy chairman of “Action for Justice and Equity in Burundi- AJEBU”, an association defending the prisoners’ rights, this 23 April.

This lawyer says Mpimba Central Prison currently accommodates more than five times the number of prisoners it should have. “This has harmful consequences for the prisoners’ living conditions,” said Minani.

He deplores the fact that Burundian prisons neither meet the standards of hygiene nor provide reasonable living accommodations. “Some prisoners are repeatedly transferred to other prisons due to the lack of spaces. They are then taken away from their families, which causes them frustration,” says Minani.

The deputy chairman of AJEBU urges courts and tribunals to apply the relevant provisions of the Burundian Criminal Code and not always privilege prison sentences. He believes that the latter can be replaced by work of general interest.

More than 3,400 prisoners benefited from the presidential pardon in 2015. More than 6,000 and over 2,200 obtained it in 2016 and 2017 respectively while over 2,700 others received it in 2018.