Friday March 16th, hundreds of inmates locked inside Mpimba Central Prison in Bujumbura, walk free as part of a mass presidential pardon.
Many of them are women and anti Pierre Nkurunziza protesters, accused of undermining internal security of the country, when they took to the streets demonstrating against his third term in 2015.
The Burundian Minister for Justice, Laurentine Kanyana, presided over the event in which 740 prisoners of all categories were released.
“His Excellency the President of the Republic of Burundi wanted to grant them the presidential pardon to return to their homes as part of national reconciliation”.
This is the first time girls and women are being released, thanks to efforts by women’s associations.
“As a woman, especially since the month of March is dedicated to us, I have come to wish you to join your respective families in peace. Whatever would have brought you here, do not do it again and return. May those who have husbands take care of them properly and in rekindle the love that led them to marry you”, Janvière Ndirahisha, Burundian Women’s Forum.
Incarcerated women face many challenges, motherhood for those who gave birth in prison has not been easy.
One ex-convict is happy her child will now grow up in a properly exposed environment.
Burundi has made strides in prisoner rehabilitation to prevent violence.
Now the government is setting up a plan for reintegration of these freed prisoners back into society.
“The fact that juvenile delinquents were liberated massively and infants who were with their mothers were released is also a sign that we need to educate children outside the prison environment”, Laurentine Kanyana, Minister for Justice.