How To Survive Prison in Rwanda and The Penal System At A Glance

By | April 2, 2016
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When it comes to the penal system in the United States, you most likely know some of the things that you’ll have to deal with. For the most part, the laws are in place, and if you break them you’ll either get fined or you will be sent to jail. Now, when it comes to international issues, you’re going to find that things are not the same as you would expect in other areas. This includes prison, legal representation and more. If you are caught in Rwanda, you are going to be subject to their laws, and prisons. In this exploration you’ll learn how criminal defense works, and how to survive a prison sentence there. Of course, this is a matter of speculation in certain arenas, as you may find a personal experience may be absolutely horrendous to experience and go through, and some stories are never told.

Rwanda’s Location and Changes

First and foremost, you need to understand that the Republic of Rwanda is in a rebuilding period. If all you know about this place is what you’ve seen in the movie “Hotel Rwanda”, you are not really going to get a true picture. The Republic of Rwanda is in the Eastern Center of Africa. It is near Congo, and it has changed things quite a bit since 1994. That year marks the end of a genocide, and because of that, the post-genocide region is a complex lexicon to deal with if you’re a criminal. The turmoil has changed the country, and there are some changes to the penal code as a result.

For instance, you’re going to find that the criminal code has changed so that the death penalty is no longer in place. The abolition of this in 2007 has allowed for changes to allow for criminal processing. In the past, if you were caught, you could be subject to death, and that was it. The Ministry of Justice now has a lot more to consider overall, as there are lawyers in place, but the ratio is absolutely insane. As of this writing, there are less than 500 lawyers that represent a country that has over 11 million people. When you consider the math, you are going to see why Rwanda is not a place where you are going to end up dealing with an easy process.

You do have the right to an attorney. This change came into place in 2004. When and if you are arrested in Rwanda, you will be processed as an international court. There’s a legal system that is in place for common law, and situations allow for branches of judicial elements. There’s a supreme court, and other courts in place, as well as legal offices and more.

Defendants’ Rights

As far as defendant’s rights are concerned, the changes to the constitution came through in 2003. This allows for all Rwandan citizens to get rights of citizenship and equality. Equal treatment under the law, even in criminal courts, and more. However, international individuals do not have the same rights, albeit there are some conditions that are attributed to this.

When a crime occurs, Judicial Police investigate and collect information in regards to this. Not only that, there are provisions in place that allows for human rights towards detention and more. Torture, inhumane, and degrading behavior is not allowed, when attained and prosecuted. Detained persons do have the right to legal assistance and a court hearing.

This may be a simplification of the penal system and judicial elements, but it’s important to understand that Rwanda’s infrastructure, post genocide, has been changing and is not as old as other modern areas. There is a lot of loopholes, issues, and the ratio of lawyers to the popular allows for a lot of things falling through the cracks. Criminals can be locked up, and forgotten with relative ease.

Surviving Prison In Rwanda

Here is the thing, the prison system in Rwanda is heavily crowded. More so than other areas, and the modern elements aren’t exactly up to par with what you would expect in a lot of countries. There has been change that came through in the late 1990s after the genocide years, but there is still a lot of issues that will in fact come into play. Overcrowding will cause this issue of survival to be absolutely difficult to manage. Even if you are imprisoned, you will get food, medicine, and simple elements. However, you will face a lot of issues in regards to personal space.

Now, you are going to find that there are some prisons leftover from the genocide have inmates that are absolutely going to hurt you. In some articles, journalists have listed Kigali, Rwanda’s Gitarama Prison as one of the most dangerous areas to get locked up in. Reports of cannibalism, murder, and much more are rampant in this particular prison.

Chances of Survival Is Rough

When you look into whether or not you could survive a prison in Rwanda, the information you will get is slim. You may not be able to make it. However, there are some rules that apply in this regards. The same rules that you would apply to regular prisons may apply here. For instance, you will find that you may want to keep your mouth shut. Be quiet. Just go through the motions of eating, sleeping, and keeping your mind focused on serving your time and that’s it.

The chances of survival for an international criminal is difficult. However, you will find that you the “struggle” is very real for surviving. There is no cookie cutter methodology to survive, as these prisons are meant to leave you out cold and that’s it. While there are some changes that have come through, there is no clear cut plan to move forward in terms of survival.

Rwanda’s prison system is not “one sided” at all. There’s a lot to consider here, and while you may have a fighting chance of getting a lawyer and not dealing with capital punishing, you may find yourself locked up and trying to get remembered amidst a very overcrowded prison population.

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