“Persistent prison overcrowding due to the slow processing of court cases”

With regard to Burundi’s prisons, ACAT-Burundi welcomes the release of prisoners in the context of the implementation of the presidential pardon measure. Indeed, a certain category of prisoners, especially those accused of minor offences, have been released. Nevertheless, ACAT-Burundi deplores the fact that prison overcrowding remains high (more than 12,000 prisoners) and that some prisoners concerned by this presidential pardon measure, especially political prisoners, have not been released and remain in prison without any titles or rights.

Inhuman and degrading treatment is still inflicted on some political prisoners by their peers who act as representatives of the prisoners grouped in security committees. These prisoners, generally close to the ruling party, mistreat prisoners from known opposition backgrounds, often with the complicity of prison officials.
Prisoners who are members of the CNL, the MSD, ex-military or police officers of the Burundian Armed Forces, and other prisoners of conscience, can be observed in prisons such as Mpimba, Gitega, Muramvya and Rumonge.

Moreover, the judicial files, especially those of the above-mentioned categories of opponents, are not progressing normally due to interference by the Executive and certain influential members of the ruling party and the corruption that characterises the Burundian judicial system.

Other challenges such as incompetence, lack of adequate resources and the absence of structural reforms such as the digitalisation and reorganisation of courts and tribunals lead to dysfunctions in the Burundian judicial system.

On the ground, ACAT-Burundi still notes that the statistics on the prison population are not always favourable and even show a considerably high occupancy rate, reaching 755% of the capacity of prisons such as Muramvya prison.

This report is a summary of the monthly reports produced from January to December 2022 and covers the penitentiaries of GITEGA, MURAMVYA, BUJUMBURA, BUBANZA, NGOZI, RUTANA, RUYIGI, MUYINGA and RUMONGE.

It focuses mainly on prison conditions, taking into account the rights guaranteed to persons deprived of their liberty and prison overcrowding; the administration of these prisons as well as irregularities or malfunctions in the judicial files of persons deprived of their liberty will be addressed.

This report also addresses the referral of victims of human rights violations, mainly in prisons in the area covered by ACAT-Burundi, to the UN and African human rights mechanisms.

Please find below the full report :

ACAT-Burundi’s annual report on prisons for 2022

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