MUNIDE ZULU, Lusaka
GOVERNMNET says it is committed to ensuring the protection, upholding and respecting of human rights.
And three civil society organisations have been awarded three-year contracts by the European Union to implement various human rights projects for prisoners around the country.
Speaking at Lusaka Central Prison yesterday, deputy Minister of Home Affairs Gerry Chanda said human rights are universal and should not be taken away except in specific circumstances.
â€œArticle One of the universal declaration of human rights states that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. In this vein, human rights entail an obligation to respect, protect and fulfil this fundamental right and also at human level, which my Government is unwaveringly committed to,â€ Col Chanda said.
He also said the prisons service is guided by international law in its administration of prisons such as the standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners.
â€œIt has, however, become difficult to fulfil this mandate as the prisons are overcrowded, too old and designed in a way that does not meet international human rights requirement,â€ Col Chanda said.
He, however, said the government has embarked on a robust infrastructure development programme ranging from construction of schools and roads and that the prisons service has received its fair share.
Col Chanda said construction of Mwembeshi Maximum Security, Luwingu, Monze and New Kalabo prisons is testimony of Governmentâ€™s resolve and commitment to addressing the challenges.
He also said Government has allocated K17.5 million for 25 infrastructure development programmes in the prisons service.
Deputy Minister of Justice Keith Mukata said Government places importance on the protection and promotion of fundamental human rights and freedoms.
Mr Mukata said Government has demonstrated this through signing a number of international agreements and treaties to promote and uphold the rights of its citizens.
And commissioner-general of prisons Percy Chato reminded prison officers that prisoners are entitled to other rights that should be protected and promoted while they are in custody.
Meanwhile, DAPP, PRSICA and CeLIM have grants from the EU.
EU head of governance and social sections sector Fabienne van den Eede said DAPP will provide health and legal services to inmates and PRSICA will promote the rights of male and female inmates and circumstantial children.
CeLIM will improve health care and education services for women and circumstantial children through human rights promotion.
MUNIDE ZULU, Lusaka