Malawi lawmakers have described conditions in most police cells as “inhuman and degrading” and called for the refurbishment of the cells countrywide to avoid breaching suspects’ constitutional rights.
Speaking in Parliament, the members of parliament noted that some police cells were inhabitable.
Karonga Central MP Frank Mwenifumbo (AFORD) said said suspects that were held in the police cells were Malawians who deserved decency in line with the Constitution.
Mwenifumbo asked Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Grace Chiumia is she is aware that the police cells across the country, are not in good condition “simply because the people that are remanded in those cells do not have access to proper sanitary. “
He said: “Would the Minister consider improving the conditions of those police cells which are normally smelly?
“ When you go to any police station, you feel a pungent smell coming from those cells, simply because people are being reprimanded to those cells and they don’t have access to proper sanitation. Would the Minister consider improving those conditions? “
Chiumia said her ministry is aware of the conditions of police cells.
“We are working hard to improve the situation. We know the situations which are prone to infection as well, so we are working on that,” said Chiumia.
But Uladi Mussa, Leader of People’s Party (PP) in the House also asked Minister of Home Affairs is she was aware that Area 3 police cells, the inside toilets which were built by DFID, which were designed to have self-contained and to have flush toilets have “deliberately” been closed by police.
“Is the Minister aware that they deliberately closed them and that is one of the cells which I was put in. If the Minister is aware, could the Minister definitely make it as it was designed that those two cells should be self-contained,” said Mussa.
Chiumia said in response that there is a policy of not having toilets inside cells.
“ It is also part of security of our prisoners because others can do other things like committing suicide and so they need to be watched. So, we are aware of that and I think it is in order,” she said.
However, rising on a point of order, Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholous Dausi wonderered if it was “ right and morally upright” for Mussa, the former Minister of Home Affairs to complain about a cell when he “put us in a cell that did have even a toilet, six men in one cell. You, is it in order for you to complain?”
Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya ruled Dausi out of order.
In 2013, President Peter Mutharika was arrested together with six other DPP members Jean Kalirani, Kondwani Nankhumwa, Patricia Kaliati, Goodall Gondwe, Nicholas Dausi, Simon Vuwa Kaunda and Bright Msaka. They were charged with treason. The charges were later dropped when Mutharika was elected President.
The cell where Mutharika was sleeping during his arrest has been painted blue and the corner he slept has been dubbed “Freedom Corner”.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :