The eight persons convicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone have been transferred to Rwanda, where they will serve their sentences, which range from 15 to 52 years. They will be detained at the Mpanga Prison, which is about a two-hour drive from Kigali.
This is a sign of the times. It wasn't long ago that the prison conditions in Rwanda were being denounced as the worst in the world. Some of them, no doubt, are still pretty wretched. Mpanga was built about four years ago with financial assistance from the Dutch government.
I visited the Mpanga Prison a couple of years ago, and was impressed with what I saw. I was there to inspect the special wing of the prison where transfer prisoners from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda are to be held, if the judges of the Tribunal ever authorise referral of their excess case load to the Rwandan justice system. The prisoners from Sierra Leone will be held in the same special part of the prison, which is segregated from the rest of the institution. There are several thousand inmates in Mpanga, essentially all of them for genocide-related charges (at least, that is what I was told on my visit in 2007).
That leaves Charles Taylor, whose trial is still underway in The Hague. If he is convicted, there is a special arrangement whereby he is to serve his sentence in the United Kingdom. But Taylor, who has complained about the 'euro-centric' food in the Dutch penitentiary, might be happier in sunny Mpanga than he would be eating English prison food - one shudders at the thought - for the rest of his days!