EU welcomes report on pathetic prison conditions

The European Union in Zambia says it has welcomed the report by Human Rights Watch, PRISCCA) and ARASA entitled ‘Unjust and Unhealthy – HIV, TB and Abuse in Zambian Prisons’ on the health situation of the prisons in Zambia.

In a statement made available to the Watchdog by EU Zambia press and Information officer Wilcliff  Sakala, the EU says it welcomes the recommendations for improvement of the prison conditions and other calls made in the report.

Below is the verbatim statement:

Press Release

Lusaka, 29 April 2010

Ref: DELZMBLUN/2010/D/00428

Local EU Statement on the release of Human Rights Watch Report on prison health conditions in Zambia

The EU Heads of Missions in Zambia welcome the release on the 27th of April of the report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), Prisons Care and Counselling Association (PRISCCA) and the Aids and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) entitled ‘Unjust and Unhealthy – HIV, TB and Abuse in Zambian Prisons’ on the health situation of the prisons in Zambia.

The EU Heads of Mission equally welcome the National Audit of Prison Conditions in Zambia by the Government of the Republic of Zambia. This report shows the plight of detainees, including the overcrowding of prisons, the extended period people are detained on remand and their difficult health and housing conditions.

The difficult prison conditions have been a cause for concern to the EU for a very long time, in particular the extremely worrying health conditions, the overcrowding of prisons and the large number of people on remand for long periods of time.

The report by HRW, PRISCCA and ARASA is the first analysis of prison health condition in Zambia by independent human rights organisations. The findings show that the situation is very concerning, with low testing levels for TB, high HIV-prevalence and the lack of prison-based health services, with overcrowded prisons and detainees being extensive periods on remand.

The EU Heads of Mission welcome the recommendations for improvement of the prison conditions, including the calls to:

–          Reduce the overcrowding of prisons by the use of alternative sentencing, expanding parole eligibility and the use of bail;

–          Undertake an effective HIV/AIDS prevention campaign in order to curb further spread of HIV/AIDS in prisons, in line with the WHO-guidelines, including education on harm reduction and condom distribution.

–          Implement the HIV/AIDS policy of the Zambia Prisons Service and provide medical and nutritional needs to detainees who are HIV-positive.

–          Establish a clinical officer in each prison on the short term and to have clinics in each prison, equipped with personnel, equipment and drugs in the long run.

–          Separate children and adults, and convicted, remand and immigration detainees.

The EU remains committed to supporting Zambia’s efforts to improve prison health conditions.

– Ends –

Statement by the Italian Embassy locally representing the European Union on behalf of all the EU diplomatic missions accredited to the Republic of Zambia: Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden United Kingdom and the EU Delegation. The Embassy of Norway associates itself with this EU statement.

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