SADC prisoner transfer agreement to decongest prisons

THE Zambia Prisons Service has signed an agreement with Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states to transfer foreign prisoners to their respective countries in a bid to decongest Zambian prisons.
The Prisons Service will transfer Malawian, Zimbabwean, Namibian, Botswanan, Mozambican and Mauritian prisoners in Zambia’s correctional facilities to their countries where they will serve the remainder of their sentences.
So far, 13 Malawians have been transferred to that country.
Commissioner of Prisons Percy Chato said the agreements with SADC member states will help to decongest prisons and enable foreign inmates to be close to their families.
“The collective agreement that we have signed with SADC member countries is working very well.  As Zambia Prisons Service, we are transferring prisoners to their countries ourselves thus cushioning the burden that the Immigration Department used to face when repatriating prisoners to their respective countries once they finish serving their sentences,” Mr Chato said.
He was speaking in Kitwe on Wednesday when he visited Kamfinsa State Prison where he interacted with prisoners in a bid to find out the challenges they are facing.
Mr Chato also said he is concerned about the increase in the number of juvenile offenders as young as 10 years old detained in prisons.
He, however, said the Zambia Prisons Service will engage the courts to explore ways of finding alternative punishment for juvenile offenders instead of sending them to prisons where they mix with adults.
Mr Chato also said the Zambia Prisons Service is committed to addressing the challenges that prisoners are facing such as lack of mattresses, electric cooking pots and clean water.
“We are going round prisons to understand the challenges that you are facing so that we can try to address them in the 2015 budget. We want you prisoners to live in a conducive environment,” he said.


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