STATE TACKLING PRISONS OVERCROWDING – KAMPYONGO
By Jossy Chaima
MINISTER Home Affairs Steven Kampyongo says Government is making efforts to minimize the application of custodial sentences for convicted persons through parole systems and community service.
Mr Kampyongo said Government will ensure full implementation and realization of reforms in the correctional systems through various interventions such as rehabilitation of facilities and parole services.
Mr Kampyongo said the levels of overcrowding in correctional facilities is saddening and its adverse effects on the realisation of the inherent human rights of inmates.
Speaking after touring Kamfinsa Correctional Facility in Kitwe Mr Kampyogo said Zambia Correctional Service is holding an inmate population of over 21, 000 against a holding capacity of 8, 250 which makes the facilities overcrowded and unhealthy for human habitation.
He said changing of the name from Zambia Prison to Zambia Correctional Service should not just be theoretical but translated into practical change.
And Minster of Justice Given Lubinda said it is a source of concern for the country, especially his ministry that for every one bed space there are more than two inmates.
He said his ministry is worried that there are more than 4, 000 people in correctional facilities before their matters are adjudicated on by the Judiciary.
Mr Lubinda said those who offend the law must be corrected and receive punishment, however it is in the interest of the ministry of Justice that innocent people must not be brought under any form of punishment.
Speaking earlier German Cooperation Programme coordinator Sabine Midderholf said over the last decade the major challenge at Kamfisa has been overcrowding which is the major concern being faced by the Zambia Correctional Services.
Ms Midderholf said the facility is faced with shortage of manpower, insufficient health facilities and transport of inmates and inadequate facilities for juveniles and women.
“As Nelson Mandela once said ‘No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails,’ all nations can take these words to heart and in the case of Zambia Correctional facilities they could spur us to find solutions to the challenges highlighted and follow them through. So Meanwhile, Zambia’s Correctional Services Commissioner General Percy Chato says they have recorded a high number of 20 987 inmates who were being held in the correction facility.
Mr Chato said Zambia’s Correctional facility was 254 percent overcrowded and has since appealed to the government to address overcrowding in a bid to be in tandem with human rights provisions.
He said Kamfinsa Correctional facility is also one of the biggest in the country and was experiencing a high holding capacity and population.
Kitwe District Commissioner Binwell Mpundu disclosed that Kamfinsa Correctional centre have partnered with the private sector to help improve the face of the facility by sinking two boreholes at Kamfinsa.