Malawi reviewing prisons law, says President Mutharika

Malawi President Peter Mutharika has disclosed that his administration is reviewing the Malawi Prisons Act to make sure that prisons are governed within a framework that rhymes with the United Nations standard minimum rules for the treatment of offenders.

President Mutyharika with prison graduate

President Mutharika with prison graduate

Mutharika with prison commissioner

Mutharika with prison commissioner

Presidet Mutharika at the prison graduation

Presidet Mutharika at the prison graduation

Mutharika made the disclosure when he presided over a graduation of 730 recruit prison warders in Malawi’s commercial capital city in Blantyre – the largest graduation ceremony in the country’s history.

President Mutharika inspecting a guard of honour mounted by prison officers at Kamuzu Stadium

President Mutharika inspecting a guard of honour mounted by prison officers at Kamuzu Stadium

“My Government would like to see a Prison Act which puts rehabilitation of offenders at the centre of prison work,” he said.

The Malawi leader explained that his administration will make sure that prisoners go through reformation and rehabilitation programmes during the time they are in.

“Prisons should therefore, not be viewed as detention centres for punishment but rather, where people who are found on the wrong side of the law are given a chance to change into useful citizens,” he said.

The President acknowledged the existence of challenges that the Malawi Prisons Service is going through, but indicated that all efforts were being made to address them.

“Government is aware of the high levels of overcrowding in our prisons. Similarly, the issue of poor and dilapidated infrastructure is an issue that   Government is working on to address,” he said.

He added that efforts were also being made by Government with support from its stakeholders to address the problem through the construction of new prisons as well as expansion of existing infrastructures.

“Government is also promoting the use of alternatives to custodial sentencing,” he disclosed.

He explained that an effective community service system will therefore offer an opportunity to all those that have committed less serious sentences to serve their sentences within their communities thereby avoiding unnecessary congestion in prisons.

The President also indicated that government is aware of the problem of understaffing in the Malawi Prison Service which has put the warder to prisoner ratio at around 1:10 against the internationally recommended ratio of 1:5.

“This therefore, is the main reason that the Government has recruited and trained the 730 prison warders that are graduating today. The trend will continue until we get closer to the recommended ratio as set out by the United Nations,” he assured.

He congratulated the newly graduated officers, advising them that their graduation only marked the beginning of the long journey ahead of them as prison officers.

“The Malawi Prison Service has invested a lot in you and it expects you to deliver on its objectives. I am advising you to take your job seriously because the Government is taking issues of security very seriously,” advised.

He warned them against abusing inmates, saying such acts were contrary to section 19 of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi which outlaws abuse prisoners whether physically or otherwise.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to extend this warning to all other serving officers within the Malawi Prison Service,” he stated.

The Government, he said, is committed to upholding the rule of law and as such, it will not condone any malpractice.

“Your duty is not to punish but rather to rehabilitate and reform prisoners so that they become productive citizens to contribute to the socioeconomic development of this country,” he advised.

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5 thoughts on “Malawi reviewing prisons law, says President Mutharika”

  1. Maxwell Nsani says:

    I do not agree 100%. there are several reasons why the courts send people to Prison when they commit an offence under the law;
    1- Rehabilitation ie to correct them and fix their behaviour making them into better citizens
    2- Punishment- to make them pay/suffer for the wrongs they have committed. That is why in chichewa it is called ` chilango`, meaning kulanga ochimwayo. Courts pass judgment, so yes the offenders are judged!
    3- Deterrence- to make those people a lesson to others who may be be thinking of committing offences as well.

    Now politicians will often talk of rehabilitation because even punishment and deterrence are supposed to change the person into a better person in the long run. But I do not agree with the thinking that the sole purpose of sending people to jail should be rehabilitation alone. There are people who will never be rehabilitated no matter what. there are offences which are so gruesome that even a life sentence is not justified. that is why countries even as civilised as the USA itself in some states hangs its capital offenders ( people who commit gruesome murders). I am in support of the death penalty personally, and God forgive me for this thinking. There are people who break into people`s houses in the middle of the night, hoping to steal a DVD, a cellphone, a laptop etc, and in the process kill the bread winner of the house because they feel they are bad ass, saw it in some movie etc. Often the bread winner has children, a wife, a mother, nephews entire villages that were looking up to him for a livelihood whose lives are now shattered . And yet this killer will be fed and housed, rehabilitated using the taxes of the very people whose bread winner he killed? And they will feed and house him for the rest of his life?
    That is where I have a problem. It is not all offenders that I have trouble with, but somehow i just think that there are times when a convicted violent offender, who intentionally and maliciously set out to take the life of another, should be locked up for punishment…..or even hang. I am just saying….

  2. Kadakwiza says:

    100% I agree with my president, we don’t need prisons to punish people but prisons to rehabilitate people. We have no right to punish or kill someone all is in the hands of God. I would like also to see murderers not to be sentenced to death, but life imprisonment. Let God judge not us

  3. mary says:

    Koma ndiye kunali anthu ocheeeeeeeeeeepa…

    1. special advisor says:

      That’s a good sign that people are buzy and are prioritizing. Osati muli konse spite president, go konko, like a remote controlled gadget. And as though you nothing else productive to do.

  4. Malindima says:

    Agree! The Prisons should be centers for behavioral change. Infact the inmates should acquire skills through artisan training where carpenters, bricklayers, Auto electricians etc can be produced. Education can also be introduced through which inmates can be educated.Government departments should hire these services and in this way, the Prisons will be self sufficient financially.

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