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Sikhala says Zimbabwe prisons resemble concentration camps

by Staff reporter
09 Oct 2020 at 10:09hrs | Views
MDC Alliance vice-chairperson Job Sikhala has equated the country's prison facilities to Nazi Germany's infamous concentration camps which were designed to dehumanise and not rehabilitate prisoners.

Sikhala, who recently underwent a 45-day remand prison ordeal following his arrest for allegedly inciting public violence, said the conditions at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison where he was caged were unfit for human habitation.

He asked Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi to explain to the National Assembly what his ministry was doing to ensure that section 50(5)(d) of the Constitution, which stipulates that there should be adequate accommodation and decent nutrition for prisoners, is respected.

"What is government doing to ensure that our prisons are up to standard and are not converted into concentration camps?

"Section 86(3)(c ) and (d) of the Constitution gives unlimited rights to citizens of our country, to human dignity, the right not to be tortured and subjected to inhumane and degrading punishment because inmates that are detained are asked every week to undress and are searched while stark naked.

"We are in the 21st Century and people cannot be asked to go naked with their private parts displayed for everyone to see and inmates assaulted," he said.

In response, Ziyambi said: "It is true that we have constitutional obligations to provide adequate facilities for our prisoners and it is also true that over the years we have had proportional increases in the number of prisoners. As government, we have several measures in place to reduce the prison population.

"One of them is to identify and build new prisons and the second is to ensure that we do not send everyone to prison. The main thrust is that we want to build new prison facilities. Funds permitting, we would have started long ago. We are also trying to engage partners to improve our prisons."

He added: "It is not government policy to hold our prisoners in an undignified manner. We have had incidents of prisoners who would smuggle dangerous items in prison so that they harm each other. It is something that is unavoidable. Maybe we need to have another way so that prisoners are searched in a dignified manner."

Mutare Central MP Innocent Gonese (MDC Alliance) said prisoners were also being beaten and abused by guards, adding that there was degrading treatment and torture of inmates.
Source - newsday

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