News24

Mozambique accepts prison criticism

2012-11-23 07:50

Maputo - The Mozambican government on Thursday accepted criticism of its prisons after a damning report by the London-based rights group Amnesty International.

"Not a week goes by without a disciplinary hearing against a prison guard," said Justice Minister Benvinda Levi

"Problems exist. For us, even a single case is a concern that deserves our attention but at the same time, we need to be careful to remember that 7 000 prisoners pass through our prison system every year," she added.

Amnesty International on Thursday released a report in which it claimed that thousands of prisoners were languishing in Mozambique's prisons without charge or access to proper legal representation.

The report catalogued a slew of alleged abuses, from detention of minors and prison overcrowding to arbitrary arrests and police torture.

The rights group said one Mozambican man spent 12 years inside a maximum security prison without ever being told why he had been arrested or appearing in court.

Thirty-three percent of the over 16 000 prisoners in Mozambique's overcrowded jails are awaiting trial, the country's Attorney General, Augusto Paulino told parliament in May.

In September this year prisoners in the city of Beira rioted over poor food and sanitary conditions.