Malawi's murder suspects overstay in prison - report

2016-10-01 18:07


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Blantyre – The failure by Malawi government to prosecute murder cases timely is resulting in some remanded suspects going mad, a new report has revealed. 

The report by the Malawi Prison Inspectorate revealed that authorities took at least a year to bring murder suspects to court.

“Murder remandees are the most affected as they can spend more than a year without being taken to court. This often leads to some inmates developing mental problems as they are unsure of their fate,” a local newspaper Weekend Nation quoted the report.

Currently, over 1 400 murder suspects were on remand awaiting trial.

The delays, the report said, were due to funding problems.

While about $6.9m was needed each year to fund prisons, the penal institutions were critically underfunded.

During 2016 financial year, the Prison Service received a measly $2 500 to feed 14 000 prisoners in 28 jails.

A local human rights activist Victor Mhango bemoaned the situation, calling it a crisis that must be resolved.

Shortage of food 

“Justice demands that suspected criminals should face the law timely, but if they are just thrown in prison without trial, that is a human rights violation,” he said.

Mhango said there were many challenges associated with delays in prosecuting serious crimes like murder. 

“Some of the challenges include death of witnesses, dilution of evidence, wrong convictions and acquittals,” Mhango.

The report also highlighted the shortage of food as another problem in the southern African country’s prisons. 
Inmates in Malawi were going for days without food, as the country faced El Nino-induced hunger which has affected 6.5 million people.

Medicins San Frontiers (MSF) recently revealed that prisons were failing to purchase simple food stuffs such as maize flour and beans.

MSF deputy head of mission in Malawi Nicolette Jackson singled out a small prison called Mulanje as one of the worst-hit penal institutions where inmates were malnourished and looked like “living skeletons”.

“Prisoners were seen crawling on the ground to collect scraps of food that were thrown over the wall to feed them. Skeletal people were in such a state of malnutrition they looked like victims in a concentration camp,” she said in a statement.

The screening of 357 inmates at the prison revealed that 14% of all prisoners were severely malnourished. 

Read more on:    malawi  |  drought  |  southern africa  |  el nino

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