Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo says government shall by the end of this year add 3,000 extra bed spaces to the current 11,100 in correctional centres.
And Kampyongo says there’s need to provide for sentences that can be served within one’s community in order to reduce congestion in prisons.
Meanwhile, Chief Justice Irene Mambilima has noted that the Judiciary has reduced on the backlog of cases.
The duo were speaking at the ceremonial opening of the Lusaka High Court criminal sessions for 2019 held under the theme, “restoring dignity for the incarcerated”, Monday.
Kampyongo announced that government shall add additional 3,000 bed spaces to the current 11,100 in prisons, by the end of this year.
He said that these improvements would come through, two ultra modern correctional facilities being constructed at Mwembeshi in which the developers shall in return take possession of Lusaka Central and Kamwala Correctional facilities.
“My government has since 2012 increased the capacity of correctional centers from 8,250 in 2011 and to 11,100 by the end of 2018. Furthermore, we shall by the end of 2019, add an additional 3000 bed spaces to the current 11,100 bed spaces. These improvements are coming through two ultra modern correctional facilities currently under construction at Mwembeshi in Central Province through public-private partnerships, in which the developers shall in return take possession of Lusaka Central and Kamwala Correctional facilities,” he said.
Kampyongo further said in order to reduce congestion in correctional facilities, there was need to provide for sentences that could be served within one’s community, especially for non violent offences.
“There are some short term measures that we must work together on to reduce congestion in the correctional facilities such as providing for sentences that could be served within one’s community, especially for non-violent offences and offenders. Technologies to monitor offenders left in communities now exist and the offenders incarcerated within the confines of their homes for example, cannot pose any threats to society. We must therefore take advantage of these technologies and make serving sentences within communities,” he said.
Meanwhile, Justice Mambilima said the ceremony was always an important event on their Annual Judicial Calendar because it gave them an opportunity to self-introspect and plan for the year ahead.
She said in 2018, the Judiciary continued to vigorously address the problems of backlog and delayed judgments.
“In my official opening speech for the Ceremonial Opening of the 2018 High Court Sessions, I stated that the biggest challenge that was afflicting the Judiciary was the backlog of cases and delays in the disposal of cases and the delivery of judgments. I am glad to disclose that in 2018 the Judiciary continued to vigorously address the plaguing problems of backlog and delayed judgments,” she said.
“I must mention that in the last three years, the judiciary mounted an aggressive policy against backlog in both criminal and civil matters. This was in reaction to a public outcry for the speedy delivery of justice and the need to fulfill our constitutional mandate to ensure access to justice to all and speedy dispensation of justice. To this end we have drastically reduced on the time an accused person spends in the criminal justice system.”
She commended stakeholders for their support, adding that their aggressive fight against backlog was intensified last year.
“This was achieved with the help of other stakeholders like the Director of Public Prosecutions’ Chambers, Legal Aid Board, Prisons and Police Services and the Law Association of Zambia. I wish to commend the stakeholders and urge them to continue supporting us. Also of importance, is the support rendered by the Treasury by making extra funds available for the extra court sessions. As a result of all of this, the High Court is now current in that it is dealing with criminal matters filed in 2018,” she said.
And Justice Mambilima said out of 532 criminal matters filed in the Lusaka High Court last year, 294 cases were disposed of while only 112 cases were pending trial or judgement and the other 112, were pending cause-listing.
She said the significant disposal rate of cases had brought about a significant reduction in the backlog of cases.
Justice Mambilima added that their mission this year was to ensure that there was no backlog of cases again.
“Our mission this year is to ensure that backlog does not rear its ugly head again at Lusaka. We will also send the task force on backlog to Kitwe and Livingstone in the first quarter of this year to dismantle backlog at those two stations,” she said.
She announced that the judiciary had reached an advanced stage in the process of coming up with High Court rules which would help in fast tracking of cases and assist Judges in case management.
Justice Mambilima added that the rules made provision for time within which a judgment should be delivered.
“The Rules make provision for time within which a judgment must be delivered. This innovation is a reaction to the public outcry for the need to have predictability in terms of disposal of matters. We will soon submit the draft Rules to the Ministry of Justice for further legislative procedures,” said justice Mambilima.