Discussions on prison decongestion under way

Minister of Homeland Security, Richard Chimwendo Banda has assured the nation that the initiative to decongest the country’s prisons amid Covid-19 pandemic, will be implemented soon.

Pressure has been mounting on authorities to consider decongesting the country’s prisons after Chichiri, Nkhata Bay and Mzimba prisons registered covid-19 cases.

Chimwendo Banda, who did not specify the actual time for the implementation of the initiative, said authorities are still discussing on the matter saying the issue is too sensitive and needs thorough processing before jumping into conclusion.

Chimwendo Banda said: “The process is on-going and the authorities responsible for the implementation of the initiative have been meeting thrice and the third meeting was on Tuesday, August 4 to work on modalities before being sent to the head of state for final recommendation.”

Authorities involved in the process of the initiative include from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Civic Education and National Unity, Ministry of Homeland Security, Ministry of Health and Ministry responsible for gender.

Recently, Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA), confirmed that the organization, in collaboration with other five institutions, wrote president Lazarus Chakwera, on July 21, to decongest the country’s prisons by half to avoid the continued spread of Covid-19 pandemic.

The country’s prisons are on the record of being overcrowded a development which is worsening the risk of coronavirus pandemic in the facilities.

The head of state has wide powers under section 89(2) of the Constitution to facilitate congestion of prisons through pardoning the convicted offenders, to granting stays of execution of sentence, reducing sentences and remitting sentences.

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