It was a joyful Thursday for kids who are living with their mothers who are serving their sentences in Musanze prison as officials from Rwanda Correctional Services and National Commission for children joined them to celebrate Christmas.
Female inmates who either get sentenced while pregnant or with toddlers who are below three years have to stay with those kids breastfeeding and take care of them as it is their rights and they had committed no crimes.
While these children do not fully enjoy their rights just like their counterparts, they still have rights to the basic rights and that is why it was important to be with them in this festive season to share Christmas as well as wish them new year according to the officials.
The event took place on Thursday 28th December in Musanze district where the prison is based.
Over 130 kids live with their mothers in Musanze prison including 66 girls and 47 boys according to the officials.
Officials brought foods and drinks, clothes and shoes plus a variety of gifts to share with the kids in a bid to help with them merry Christmas and happy New Year.
Mothers whose kids in prison expressed joy saying that while their children are in prison, the government still recognizes their rights.
They said it was nice for kids to get food staff with is different from what they always get from prison which is not good for them.
“ Today is a special day as officials recognize our kids and brought to them food and drinks, sometimes our kids fail to eat food they are served and it has been long without them eating the food they are given now, I believe our kids will be happy” said one of female inmate whose a kid is in prison
RCS’s Deputy Director General Jeanne Chantal Ujeneza said the children living in the prisons are the ones whose parents are in jail due to the crimes they committed but those children have committed no crime and they can’t enjoy their rights but RCS helps them enjoy basic rights.
“These kids are here in prison because their mothers are jailed but particularly they don’t have their full rights as other children, however though mothers of these kids have committed crimes and are in prisons we don’t deprive kids of their rights,” she said
Kids who are living with their mothers are those who are still below three years and when they are three years, they are sent out to be taken care of other family members.
While in prison, DCG Ujeneza said they have rights to live with their mothers for them to breastfeed them and take care of them.
“We let mothers come with their kids, breastfeed them as breast milk is very important in kids’ growth, that is why the government allows mothers to beast feed their kids from just one day to three years and by own mothers,” she added
Francois Bisengimana, Director of Adoption Protection and Promotion of Child Rights, at NCC said the event was an opportunity to again fulfill their responsibility of ensuring child rights.
“All these is the rights children have, it is not just gifts and children should actually get such services be it in prisons, on the street, in orphanages or in rehabilitation centres, children should enjoy their rights,” he said
There are 377 children living with their mothers in five prisons namely Musanze, Nyamagabe, Muhanga, Ngoma and Nyarugenge prisons.