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Parliament investigates prison conditions

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The Parliamentary Thematic Committee on Human Rights has embarked on a countrywide tour of all prisons to investigate inmates’ living conditions.

Committee chairperson and Zaka Senator Misheck Marava yesterday confirmed his committee had already visited prisons in Bulawayo and Matabeleland provinces.

He said last year interventions by the committee resulted in positive changes in prisons most of which were unfit for human habitation.

“Yesterday we were at Khami Prison in Bulawayo and we are embarking on a fact-finding mission to find out living conditions of prisoners throughout the country,” said Marava.

“Last year we visited Mashonaland West and Masvingo prisons and the situation was very bad, but there have been very significant improvements on the diet of prisoners since our visit,” he said.

Justice and Legal Affairs deputy minister Obert Gutu yesterday confirmed there had been massive improvements in the living conditions of prisoners.

“There has been significant improvement, particularly regarding the food situation and prisoners are now getting three meals per day.
This is a vast change from the dire situation of 2007 and 2008, where prisoners used to walk almost half-naked and survived on one meal per day.

“In terms of statutory obligations, our prisoners now look fit and well-fed,” he said.

Gutu said it was imperative to have a relook at the country’s laws in terms of taking care of babies with their mothers in prison.

“Where a female prisoner is incarcerated with her baby there is no budgetary provision for that baby to be given food. We do not want to have such unfortunate situations where babies end up being punished and seemingly serving a prison term with their mothers,” he said.

Gutu said his ministry was in the process of setting up open prisons for women and a pilot project was being conducted in Marondera.

“This would be the best set-up for imprisoned mothers with babies,” said Gutu.sday.co.zw/articles/newform

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