Zambia Correctional Service Commissioner General Percy Chato says the prison facilities are currently holding over 21,000 inmates against a holding capacity of 8,550.
Speaking during the commemoration of the Human Rights Day under the theme; ‘Our rights our freedom always’, Chato lamented that overcrowding remained one of the greatest challenges of the prisons service.
“Overcrowding still remains our greatest challenge which needs agent interventions. Our facilities are currently holding over 21, 000 inmates against an official holding of 8550 representing that we are over 200 per cent overcrowded,” Chato said.
“It is not a hidden fact that in a situation where overcrowding is
persistent, violation of human rights and the spread of communicable diseases may exist.”
Chato said other challenges included inadequate staffing levels to undertake rehabilitation activities, less health posts and inadequate transport for effective operations.
“As a service we need to take a practical steps , however, we still have challenges which includes inadequate staffing levels to undertake rehabilitation activities, less health posts and inadequate transport for effective operations and lack of starter packs for inmates that have undergone rehabilitation and have been released from correctional prison,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chato says Zambia Correctional Service is committed to ensuring that the rights of inmates are upheld.
“Indeed, without human rights there can be no freedom. That is the reason why the Zambia Correctional Service in its transformation process is committed to ensuring that the rights of inmates are upheld,” said Chato.
“As a service, we do recognize and acknowledge the inherent dignity of a human being including inmates as provided for in rule number one of the Mandela Rules which states ‘All prisoners shall be treated with the respect due to their inherent dignity and value as human beings. No prisoner shall be subjected to, and all prisoners shall be protected from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The safety and security of prisoners, staff, service providers and visitors shall be ensured at times. I wish to call upon my staff to take the respect of human rights for inmates as part of their daily duties or routines.”