The Hot New Export Commodity: War Criminals

Last week, the Government of Rwanda and the Special Court for Sierra Leone announced that convicted war criminals from Sierra Leone will serve their sentences in Rwandan jails. Because of Rwanda’s fine jail system and Sierra Leone’s not-so-fine jail system, the two entities entered this agreement to abide by international penal standards. The announcement:

Came shortly after a visiting SCSL team concluded touring and inspecting country’s detention facilities and, expressed their solid appreciation for the “quality of the facilities,” an approval duly welcomed by government.

This has effectively made Rwanda the hotspot for international war criminals which, you know, possibly might perpetuate Rwanda’s  global identity as a post-genocidal hub of those who have committed crimes against humanity.

Interestingly, this move adds prestige to population. According to the International Centre for the Study of Prisons, Rwanda has the highest prison population rate in the world with 604 prisoners per 100,000 people.

And of course, it also is a very direct signal to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda that the Government of Rwanda wants their prisoners, and if forced to do so, will take those from other countries. Regardless of all requests:

No prisoner from the Arusha tribunal has been transferred to Mpanga despite requests from the Rwandan authorities. Convicted Rwandan génocidaires serve their sentences in Mali, Italy, Benin, Swaziland, France and Sweden.

If you can’t have your own war criminals, why not import others? The important question: will these new hot commodities be dressed in fashionably pink Rwandan jail outfits?


(Photo: complements of the Scarlett Lion)


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