Sierra Leone rebel convicts sent to Rwandan jail

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sierra Leone has transferred eight convicted former rebel leaders to Rwanda's Mpanga prison to serve out their sentences.

Eight former rebels, convicted of atrocities committed during Sierra Leone's decade-long civil war, have been transferred to a Rwandan prison to serve their sentences.

Last Sunday, the convicts were sent to Rwanda's Mpanga prison, a facility that meets the minimum international standards for incarceration. The prisoners included both rebel and loyalist militia leaders, convicted of war crimes, including amputation, enlisting child soldiers, and sexual slavery.

The acting registrar for Sierra Leone's Special Court, Binta Mansaray, said that there are no prisons in Sierra Leone that meet international standards. However, Rwanda is able and willing to enforce the sentences.

"They have excellent facilities as far as a prison is concerned," Mansaray said. "Whereas in Sierra Leone, while the country is moving in the right direction in terms of strengthening democratic institutions, especially the security sector, we have been advised by past governments that the country is not yet in a position to enforce sentences due to weak institutional arrangements."

Rwanda established the Mpanga prison to accommodate prisoners convicted of war crimes committed during the 1994 genocide. In March, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda signed an agreement with its fellow Special Court to hold prisoners convicted by the Sierra Leonean tribunal.