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'Leg irons should be used on dangerous criminals, not MPs'

by Staff reporter
13 May 2023 at 19:12hrs | Views
The use of leg irons should be reserved for dangerous criminals and not those with minor cases and those who hold public office, Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislator Willias Mudzimure has said.

Contributing to a debate during the second reading of the Prisons and Corrections Services Bill on Wednesday in Parliament, MP Mudzimure said the bill should be clear that leg irons should not be used on all suspects.

"On the treatment of prisoners, I think this Bill must make it clear that you cannot be leg-ironed just like that. I have got typical examples of Hon. Members who are in this House who would come to prison in leg irons for a crime that is not even murder, for a crime that at the end of the day may just require that particular person to pay a fine," he said.

CCC legislator Job Sikhala who is in remand prison is often brought to prison handcuffed and shackled in leg irons.

Mudzimure said the use of leg irons should be the last resort.

"Why dramatise some arrests? I think the use of leg irons must be a last resort for those known dangerous criminals, not ordinary Members of Parliament or members of society who have been arrested for being accused of spreading falsehood."

The status of an individual should not end up affecting to the extent that just because you are probably a councillor or an MP, you are leg-ironed. I do not think that is proper. I am of the opinion that the Minister will take that into consideration."

He said prisons must be used for the purpose of rehabilitating prisoners and make sure that they receive psychological support.

Mudzimure added that prisoners should have conjugal rights.

"The issue of sexuality is not a secret and for us to expect someone to go to prison and spend ten years alone in prison without enjoying his/her rights, I think it is wrong."  Corrected

Meanwhile, he said prisons should be not given the power to decide where a person is supposed to be detained.

"If you are still on remand, you must be in a remand prison. You cannot because of the status of an individual or politically exposed person, to suddenly decide to keep that person in a maximum prison. If you are still on remand, you must be remanded in a Remand Prison. The moment you take the person from the Remand Prison to a Maximum Prison, you have already imposed a judgement on the individual," he said.

The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Ziyambi Ziyambi however said correctional officers in prisons are now trained to make prisoners adjust psychologically to the reality on the ground.

"They will speak to them so that they relax and accept their situation and then work on a programme that will ensure that as they progress through their journey, they will get out of prison as rehabilitated individuals.  So, our curriculum now speaks to exactly what you were saying and we also have psychologists in our prisons by the way. "

He said the ministry is now trying to educate the public that if they have people with various skills, they must utilise them.  

"The last time we tried to utilise people with various skills, to train people, there was an uproar.  Our mindset is such that if somebody goes to prison, he is a bandit, he must not do anything but we want to utilise their skills and rehabilitate them whilst they impart the skills on other people," said Ziyambi.

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