Burundi + 2 more

Refugees From Great Lakes Region Serving Jail Terms

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DAR SE SALAAM, Tanzania (PANA) - Hundreds of refugees from the war-torn Great Lakes region are currently serving diverse jail terms in the western Tanzanian region of Kigoma for committing various criminal offences, including murder.
According to regional Commissioner Abubakar Mgumia, the convicts have over stretched prison facilities.

Up to 500 convicts are sharing cell facilities meant for 60 people, he said in a statement.

The Bangwe prison facility, whose maximum capacity is 64, is currently holding 490 inmates, the Kasulu prison, whose maximum capacity is 80, is hosting 204 inmates while the Kibondo prison's capacity of 204 inmates has double that number.

Mgumia said as many as 190 Burundian refugees, 150 Congolese and six Burundians were currently in jail. Since the beginning of the year, a total of 178 Burundians and 37 Congolese refugees have been convicted and jailed in the area.

Mgumia noted that refugees are responsible for a total of 465 criminal offences committed in the region between 1994 and December 1999. The offences include armed robbery, illegal possession of firearms and murder.

The Tanzanian authorities have maintained that the presence of the refugees has put a strain on the country's resources and poses a hazard to its social stability.

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