Zambian prisons 'overcrowded'

2010-04-29 11:14
Lusaka - Prisons in Zambia are so overcrowded that inmates are sometimes forced to sleep seated or in shifts, and children behind bars are vulnerable to rape by adult prisoners, aids organisations said.

A report released by the Prisons Care and Counseling Association (PRISCCA), Aids and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), and Human Rights Watch on Tuesday said that some prisoners are detained for years enduring such conditions before they are even brought to trial.

"Zambian prisoners are starved, packed into cells unfit for human habitation, and face beatings at the hands of certain guards or fellow inmates," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "Children, pregnant women, pretrial detainees, and convicted criminals are condemned to brutal treatment and are at serious risk of drug-resistant TB and HIV infection."

In the 135-page report, entitled "Unjust and Unhealthy: HIV, TB, and Abuse in Zambian Prisons", the groups called on the Zambian government and its partners to make immediate improvements in prison conditions and medical care. They also argued for improvements in the criminal justice system, and for more to respect the rights of prisoners and to protect public health.

There was no immediate comment from Zambian government officials despite repeated and persistent requests to officials to give their side of the issue.

"Zambia needs to act now to improve conditions in prisons and address the health needs of prisoners," said Michaela Clayton, director of ARASA. "Addressing prisoner health is also critical for effectively addressing community health, since prisoners and staff return to towns and villages."

Sexual abuse is common

The groups said children and adults and convicted detainees all are held together in spaces so tight that at some prisons, they are forced to sleep seated or in shifts.

Medical care is almost nonexistent, according to the report. The Zambia Prisons Service employs only 14 health care workers to serve 15 300 inmates, and only 15 of the country's 86 prisons have clinics or sick bays, it said.

Physical abuse only compounds the ill health of inmates. Some prison officers routinely beat prisoners, or force them naked into small, dark cells where they are given minimal food, the groups said. Prisoners are also frequently beaten by other inmates. Sexual abuse is common, and children are particularly vulnerable to rape by adult inmates in their cells.

"People are dying," said Godfrey Malembeka, a former prisoner and prison rights activist who is executive director of PRISCCA. "Zambia has an obligation to ensure humane treatment for prisoners. Human beings cannot live the way the prisoners are living. It is intolerable."

- SAPA
Read more on:    zambia  |  southern africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

iOS / Android Developer

Western Cape
Extraordinary Futures
R25 000 - R40 000 Per Month

Sales Representative

Western Cape
Neo Batho (Pty) Ltd
R9 000 - R10 000 Per Month

Credit Process Manager

Western Cape
Hire Resolve
R250 - R300 Per Year

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 40% on outdoor accessories!

Tents, sleeping, day packs and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Month End Madness Sale!

Save up to 60% on across a wide range of goods from books to electronics, DVDs and many more. Sale end 31 January 2015. Shop now!

Valentine’s Day gifts – 14 Feb!

Gifts to spoil him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off fragrances

Get 30% off fragrances for him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off All Textbooks

Save up to 30% off an extensive range of prescribed textbooks for all major universities and FET colleges. Shop Now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It is easy to get bogged down by things today. The Taurus Moon highlights the comforts and pleasures of life. You may have the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.