Activists ask UN Special Rapporteur to inspect Malawi prisons

Malawi Human Rights Defenders group has  requested the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Prisons to inspect and identify challenges facing people in prisons and make recommendations on the way forward to the government.

One of the Human Rights Defenders and lawyer, Habiba Osman, told journalists in Lilongwe that the situation of prisons in the country is getting worse and needs urgent attention by government.

“The current situation in prisons including Maula brings to the fore the fact that nothing has changed although government promised to do that as referred to the ruling which was made in 2009. But things have increasingly gotten worse, “she said.

She said the life-threatening conditions are contrary to the laws of the land on section 2 sub section 1b which provides that every person who is detained , including every sentenced prisoner shall have the right to be detained under conditions consistent with human dignity, which shall include at least the provision of reading and writing, adequate nutrition and medical treatment at the expense of the state.

Habiba Osman and Mayaya: Prisons have become death trap
Habiba Osman and Mayaya: Prisons have become death trap

Osman further said the current shortage of food in prisons, congestion and lack of adequate medical care raises concerns about the welfare of all prisoners particularly those on Antiretroviral Treatment.

Local and International press have reported of high congestion in Malawi prisons with Maula prison alone holding a capacity of close to 2300 prisoners instead of 800.

She appealed to government to set up an Emergency Fund out of its budget to counter for any further loss of life due to shortage of food in Prisons.

Human Rights Activist, Billy Mayaya, said apart from requesting  the UN, the Civil Society is forging linkages with the Special Rapporteur on African Commission on Human and People’s Rights to examine the situation of persons deprived of their liberty and prison conditions.

“We believe that prisoners should be given dignity and liberty to live and serve their sentences  in good and dignified condition,” he said.

Rule of law and access to justice should be adhered to, anything out of that is regarded to as a violation of human rights, he said.

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