NGO advocates for Camp Court: ‘Delivering justice in prisons’

Paralegal Advisory Services Institute (PASI) has asked magistrate courts to regularly conduct Camp Courts, an initiative where courts sit in prisons, as a way of quickly delivering justice to those who have over stayed on remand and the ill.

Chimwemwe Ndalahoma: PASI coordinator

The request was made by PASI’s Paralegal Coordinator, Chimwemwe Ndalahoma, during a Court Users Committee (CUC) meeting in Ntchisi.

“There are a lot of suspects who have overstayed in detention because the police are still searching for witnesses. Some are denied bail for no apparent reasons and the ill that need special consideration by magistrates. All these are helped through this initiative,” said Ndalahoma.

The coordinator said camp court ensures that human rights of suspects are respected and all procedures are followed as the suspects go through justice system.

The Officer in Charge for Ntchisi Prison, Ben Mthulama, hailed camp courts saying they give opportunity for the magistrates and other stakeholders to have firsthand experience of the situations in prisons.

“Sometimes we talk of congestion in prisons but very few appreciate the magnitude of the problem because they just talk about it. During camp courts, there’s an opportunity for court officials to see on their own the problem of congestion,” said Mthulama.

He said firsthand experience of congestion in prisons gives magistrates second thoughts when giving sentences to convicts.

“Today’s camp court has seen one suspect going out on bail and three others are waiting for sureties to also go on bail. It really helps reduce congestion,” he said.

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Chimwemwe, your observations should bring chimwemwe on faces of many suspects who are illegally kept in our congested prisons. But Chimwemwe, can PASI also look into hundreds of criminal cases which are uncompleted and suspects are on indefinite torturous court or police bail. Some of such cases, suspects are on bail for more than 2 years and the State continues marking their bail papers showing no interest to take suspects to the Courts to conclude the cases. I wonder if Courts can be reminding these prosecutors. As PASI, I hope you have the mandate, check in their case record registers… Read more »
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