Moz prisons - minors, adults to be apart
Maputo - Mozambique will begin housing minors in separate prisons from adults, the justice minister said Friday on state television as she opened the country's first juvenile detention facility.
"The country's overcrowded prisons house today as much as 16 000 inmates, 35% of them minors aged between 16 and 21 years old," Justice Minister Benvinda Levi said.
"We need to rehabilitate adolescents and young adults, so we are introducing these centres to allow them the right to maintain regular contact with their families and to assist them," she said.
She was speaking Wednesday at the opening of a Juvenile Recovery Prison Facility in Boane, about 500km north of Maputo.
State TVM television called the facility the first of its kind in the country, with room for 200 minors aged 16 to 21.
Levi said most juveniles in prison were locked up on charges of petty theft and still awaiting trial.
The change also aims to protect teenagers from sexual violence committed by other inmates, which has created an Aids crisis inside prison walls.
The country's overall HIV prevalence rate is 11%, but the rate inside prisons is about three times higher, according to the health ministry.