Do Prisoners in Rwanda have Representation Legal Rights?

These were among the pre and post event survey quiz that were conducted in Nyarugenge/Mageragere Prison during the campaign that had a theme “Advancing Human Rights within Rwanda’s criminal justice and system/Rights to Legal representation awareness campaign, August 2022”.

Nyarugenge prison is currently hosting 12,000 inmates situated in Nyarugenge District, Mageragere sector and the only prison in Kigali capital city of Rwanda, this new and modern facility merged the two former prisons; Gasabo prison and historical Kigali prison known as PCK 1930.  “PCK 1930 prison Central de Kigali”

Aim of the campaign

Among the accepted UPR recommendations by the Government is ensuring that  detainees have access to legal counsel in relation to facilitating quality and affordable access to justice. It is against this background that we aim to conduct the right to Legal Representation/ Uburenganzira bwo kunganirwa mu Butabera Rights-awareness Campaign as a way of increasing the awareness of detainees on ways through which they can obtain free legal counsel from different institutions and civil society organisations in addition to what this project already provides. Using theatre, speeches, live lessons, surveys, posters and flyers, this rights-awareness campaign will aim to increase public awareness about how to obtain free legal Representation (Advocate) and about the importance of having a lawyer during the criminal justice chain.

Relevant Institutions were represented such as the executive director of Prison Fellowship Rwanda, Rwanda Bridge to justice, ipeace Rwanda, Rwanda national commission for human rights, Rwanda Bar Association and Rwanda Correctional Services (RCS), The executive secretary of Nyarugenge district and Assistant Commissioner of Prisons (ACP Kimenyi Alex of RCS) termed Nyarugenge Prison as the 11th sector among the other 10 sectors in Nyarugenge simply because many of social, health, education, health and economical activities are conducted within this facility much as it is done outside Nyarugenge district.

The bishop subsequently said in his speech with references from the bible in John 8:32 “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Where he then commented on the same scripture that we cannot achieve the unity and reconciliation we aspire to reach yet hiding the truth from within our hearts. Prison Fellowship Rwanda has been contributing to Rwanda’s justice system over 26 years through Psychosocial healing & restorative justice in that more than 35,000 inmates have been trained through the prisoner’s journey program that resulted in confessing of crimes, reconciliation between the offenders and the victims henceforth some perpetrators were being rehabilitated back to their communities. He concluded by thanking the joint effort of all partners and the Government of Rwanda that has facilitated a lot in peacebuilding, unity and reconciliation.

Back to the pre-event survey quiz, most questions were not able to be answered by inmates before several Using theatre, speeches, live lessons, surveys, posters and flyers that shade more light to open prisoner’s eyes about their rights to legal aid representation hence fortunately the event concluded when a big number of inmates are able to answer well all the quiz questions but also grasped more knowledge about their legal rights to be represented when suspected or convicted.

The guest of honor (ACP Kimenyi Alex) also summed up the event in his speech by thanking all partners and promising to facilitate and support them to achieve the desired outcome of legal rights to representation among prisoners in Rwanda

Prison Fellowship Rwanda

A restoring community for all involved and affected by the 1994 genocide against Tutsi, other crimes, and people in emergencies.

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