January 3, 2020

Tough Measures Adopted to Deal With Alleged Torture at IWAWA Island Center

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Trainees at IWAWA, most of them former street children and drug addicts. However, in recent years parents are also sending there their indisciplined children

At the IWAWA Vocational Training Centre, government is taking tough measures against trainers conniving with trainees to torture others in the name of discipline.

The latest to face the law are RDF Cpl Murwanashyaka Modeste and singer Uwimana Francis a.k.a Fireman. The two are facing prosecution in the military court martial for torturing a trainee Gisubizo Fabien.

The two suspects appeared at the military court on December 31, 2019, in Nyamirambo, here in Kigali.

Singer Fireman is a civilian, but is being prosecuted in the military court because he committed the crime with a soldier. It is alleged in 2018, Cpl Murwanashyaka and Fireman beat their victim so badly they broke one of his ribs and right leg. He has yet to heal over a year later and is still at IWAWA.

According to court documents, Fireman, who was a trainee, had been appointed by IWAWA administrators as trainees’ leader. Cpl Murwanashyaka for his part was the commander of 4 soldiers in charge of military drills.

IWAWA center is located on Iwawa island, Lake Kivu. Thousands of street children and drug addicts have been ferried there for years as government attempts to give them a new lease of life.

In recent years, it has also been receiving youth recommended by their parents for rehabilitation. When your family feels you have lost yourself to drugs and indisciplined, they will report your name to the authorities who will drag you there for up to a year or more of rehabilitation.

Despite its ability to change those who have attended its courses, there are unending reports of beatings and mistreatment inflicted on the trainees. Some return with scars.

Many have developed permanent disabilities as a result of alleged torture there. Some return to society with a bitter state of mind, often with a hardline attitude against their families for sending them to IWAWA.

Cpl Murwanashyaka and singer Fireman are two of a long list of IWAWA officials said to be currently being prosecuted and others dismissed for their involvement in sustaining the torture scheme. Government is sending a signal that anyone beating people at IWAWA will be held to account individually.

Government has preferred to keep the prosecutions out of the limelight to prevent the details from the proceedings from overshadowing the good that happens at IWAWA.

In the military court case again the duo, it has become public because of the singer Fireman whose status meant local media are following his case. The suspects deny the charges.

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