CHREAA pleads for decongestion of prisons as covid-19 cases surge

Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA) has asked government to consider an early release of some prisoners amid a surge in Covid-19 cases in prisons.

The call comes after reports indicate that 60 inmates at Maula prison, which is also overpopulated, were tested positive to Covid-19 as the third wave of the pandemic continues to put the country at risk.

CHREAA Executive Director, Victor Mhango, expressed worry over the development and has therefore asked the state president, Lazarus Chakwera, to exercise his constitutional powers to pardon some of the inmates more especially those with chronicle diseases and the aged.

Mhango said: “We should consider decongesting our prisons and we are asking the president to release some inmates such as those terminally ill and the elderly because as you know that these groups of are at higher risk.”

He also bemoaned the continued congestion in the country’s prisons saying most of the facilities are accommodating three times more than the recommended capacity.

Mhango said the prison service cannot be blamed for the congestion and surge of the pandemic in the prisons because they are just on the receiving end.

He however said the whole criminal justice system needs to be faulted because there are many suspects who are languishing inside the prisons yet they were not supposed to be locked in the first place.

“There are people who committed minor offences who just need to be taken to court and fine them instead of congesting our prisons,” Mhango said.

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