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close this bookICRC Activities in Rwanda: 1993 - 6 April 2000 (International Committee of the Red Cross , 230 p.)
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ICRC NEWS N° 18/4 May 1995

RWANDA

ICRC INCREASES STAFF FOR PRISON VISITS

The protection of detainees has become the most urgent task for the ICRC in Rwanda, where it has registered more than 36,000 people in 150 different places of detention. Inmates are often living in appalling conditions, especially in some local jails where there is so little space that they are forced to take turns sitting down. “Under normal circumstances”, said Brigitte Troyon, ICRC detention coordinator in Rwanda, “these people would stay in small lock-ups for only one or two days before being transferred to a prison with running water, food and medical care provided by the ICRC. But since the 13 prisons in Rwanda are also overcrowded, some detainees are held in these cramped local jails for weeks”. Furthermore, the situation is being aggravated by a steady stream of new detainees.

The ICRC is assigning extra staff to its teams which visit both prisons and local jails to register detainees, check on conditions of detention and negotiate improvements with the authorities. By mid-May, 32 delegates specialized in prison visits will be working across Rwanda to protect these thousands of detainees, in cooperation with ICRC medical and sanitation staff.

“Receiving a visit from an ICRC delegate also gives the detainees a feeling of hope”, said Guy Dutoit, who visits four or five places of detention per week, including Gitarama prison. “They appreciate the fact that we follow their situation closely and that we take time to listen to their problems and worries.”

The ICRC has for several months been urging the opening of new detention centres which could accommodate several thousand detainees and offer the prison population more humane living conditions.

Further information: Sophie Bonefeld, ICRC Kigali, tel. ++ 250 72 781
Renuc Thz, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++ 4122 730 2265