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Burundi Women Prisoners Protest Against Congestion, Hunger

3 Min Read

As the world continues to celebrate international Women’s Day, Women prisoners in Burundi have protested against poor food, congestion and delayed Justice.

On March 12 a team from the Ministry of Justice visited Mpimba central prison, however, the prison authorities had earlier cautioned the inmates to behave when the Ministry Justice team arrives at the facility.

Before the arrival of the personnel from the Ministry of Justice, the director of the prison asked the prisoners to behave like ‘human beings’.

“When our guests come, you should stand up, greet them warmly and welcome with dances and songs. You have to prove to them that you are still “human beings”, you have to show them that you are innocent “. And to tell them a secret: “The minister has brought you something, stay calm!,”said the director of the prison.

The prison warden prohibited the inmates telling them not to expose their problems but only to thank: “Put your jargon aside, and one of you is going to speak in thanks only. Our problems are between us,” he ordered.

Evelyne Izobiriza an inmate was chosen to represent her colleagues. She didn’t mince words and suddenly defied orders from prison warden.

In her speech, she didn’t just say “thank you”.

She presented her concerns also on the subject of the recent presidential pardon; “We are afraid that most of us will not benefit from the presidential pardon, because we are still in the category of ” defendants ” and that is a lot of years that our trials do not advance.

To qualify for this grace, you must be in the category of “condemned”. A lot of women here don’t have lawyers and others can’t afford a lawyer,” she pleaded.

“We sleep on the floor, the prison is full. You couldn’t get into our cells to find out. There are pregnant women, old people, mothers who have infants. Some of us have just spent 5 years without appearing in court, not to mention those who are here unfairly. The justice does nothing, we want to know where it is with our files,” Izobiriza querried the team from Justice Ministry.

Another inmate cited the lack of food, “We are given almost a kilogram and a half of flour and beans a day, for lunch and dinner, whether you have children or not. This is not enough “.

During this visit, the team from the Ministry of Justice brought some food for the detainees. This was for the purpose of celebrating International Women’s Day with these detainees.

“The prisoners are 235 in total while this part of the prison should only accommodate 80 inmates,” said Ildefonse Ruvahagumye, director of Mpimba central prison.

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