Zambian Court to determine whether congestion and lack of food contravenes rights of prisoners with HIV

Lusaka central prison

Just two days after World AIDS Day, the Zambia High Court will hear and determine whether pathetic, inhuman prison conditions and lack of food in Zambia prisons violet human rights for people living with HIV.

The arguments will be heard on Monday, December 3, 2012 in Mwanza and Another v Attorney General.

The case was taken to court by two HIV-positive individuals, who allege that poor prison conditions and the lack of adequate food provided to HIV-positive prisoners on treatment in the Lusaka Central Prison (Chimbokaila) violated their human rights.

The two are being represented by Legal Resources Chambers (LRC).

“Prisoners are already in an extremely vulnerable position due to their incarceration but the situation is far more serious for HIV-positive prisoners on treatment since a lack of food and poor conditions can mean the difference between life and death.” said Priti Patel, Deputy Director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), which along with the Treatment Advocacy and Literacy Campaign (TALC) has been following the case.

“It is essential that the High Court recognises the vulnerability of HIV-positive prisoners and insists that government provides all prisoners with adequate food and guarantees proper prison conditions,” said Moses Mazyopa, Acting Treatment Literacy Officer at TALC.

The case has been brought by two HIV-positive individuals regarding the treatment they allegedly experienced while incarcerated in the Lusaka Central Prison.

Both men allege that they are on HIV treatment and are arguing that the lack of adequate food, abysmal prison conditions and barriers to accessing HIV treatment all violated their right to life and freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment under the Zambian Constitution.

The government has denied their allegations.


  • comment-avatar
    Tomahule 5 years

    Cycle Mata that is a foolish sentiment… what you are saying is that while there at it they may as well sentence to death all HIV positive inmates.. that is wrong… the fact that they have not been put on death row means that government must, as is required by law guarantee their rights to treatment thus right to life and a dignified life…

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    Cycle Mata 5 years

    If only these guys did not break the law, they could be having all the HIV pills and good food…

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    Zambezi 5 years

    This case will prove the leadership this country has,The Prisons and detention centers are over-populated the inmate rights have been violated 1.Lack of sleeping rooms 2.Lack of Food 3.Lack of Medical attention 4.Lack of Access to reasonable legal representation the list is long.If there is lack of room,food and medical access release these men and women

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    Mzee Hekima 5 years

    The best solution is to avoid going to prison at all costs. Why are our prisons so full by the way, blaming poverty is not true. Is it possible to decongest the prisons by not doing anything that will take you there.

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      Mufana Wamahafu 5 years

      My friend, today you may bash a person who is committing suicide and you end up in prison for manslaughter or dangerous driving. Or you may receive a parcel of 700 grammes of high grade cocaine wrongly addressed to you and end up failing to convince DEC that its not your parcel-jail. Or you may find your wife in bed with that marcho garden boy you trust so much, push your wife down those steep stairs and ending up killing her-jail. You see my friend, not everyone in jail failed to to abide by your advise. Jail is around the corner for all of us.

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      Joseph Mbesuma 5 years

      We need the government to expand and upgrade prisons. Needless to say they are also an essential part of administering the country. Only then will these places be proper correctional facilities. We have been using prisons that were constructed tens of years ago.
      We also need to upgrade and expand police stations, courts, councils and other offices.
      I haven’t had chance to visit our newely created provinces and districs. I hope our president is putting priority to construction and establishemnt of these offices. Kaya ziko yathu

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      Bonzo 5 years

      @Mzee Hekima. Am sure you have never heard of the one which says,”We MAY not all go to University, but we are all LIKELY to end up in hospital or prison.”

      In any case, it is said society is judged by how it looks after its prisoners, the weak and the old.

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    Emmanuel Minsula 5 years

    Can the state do something immediately b 4 we lost a lot of lives.Mind u not all of them are criminals some are innocent!as u know umulandu mume tuukumpulafye?God help us to irreticulates this issue!!!!!!!

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    allien space angel 5 years

    Incarceration is the punishment and not hunger,refusal of medical care, ìmproper ventilation etc. zambians should know that you can sue the govt if u contract any diseas as a result of the above mentioned e.g tb when in prison. we should realise that the punishment is to be kept away from society and not to be put on chitakataka thats a violation of ones rights. e.g anders behring breivick of norway is doing time for inhumanely killing 77 people in norway but his three roomed cell which includes a study and tv room is much more humane compared to sum1 who was convicted for stealing a bag of meali meal in zambia. lets respect human rights.

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    Concernd 5 years

    It’ guiet pathetic and sad at the same time to see pipo suffering that like animals.It’s time for state to do something immediately Before we lost lives,inparticular inocent pipo.Ala ichifungo ca bonse one day or another the very same pipo ‘ll find themselves in the similar scenario!!!!!God help us?????????

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    Bill Kapinga 5 years

    As we commemorate the world AIDS day, my heart goes out to a lady living in one of the slam areas of Kitwe. Before she came to the city, a man went to her remote village and convinced her to marry him. However a few years later, he abandoned her and went on to live with another woman. She sued for reconciliation arguing that her husband had infected her with HIV/AIDS and it was unfair for him to leave her just like that. The court sent them home to work out their differences but the man counter-sued a few weeks later asking for divorce because according to him, the lady had brought shame to the family for disclosing her HIV/AIDS status. Unfortunately divorce was granted and the man was ordered to be paying the lady an equivalent of US$100 per month for the next three years. US$100! This mother of two has to pay rent, send her kids to school, bring food to the table, seek medication from time to time etc and you grant her US$100?

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    Say what? 5 years

    I would have thought a lack of food violates EVERYONE’S human rights, not just those living with HIV.

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    Yobaba 5 years

    This is a very important and good story but bloggers are more concerned about politics???? Thanks ZWD

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    Marino 5 years

    In all fairness this is tantamount to abuse of human rights. Goverment should do something as many of you will be incarcerated in the same enviroment come 2016. Dr. Guy scott knows what is going on in these prisons.

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      AnAppealToCommonSense 5 years

      I agree Marino, although the conditions have been bad since Kaunda’s time. It’s the responsibility of the government to not put people in more danger, especially as they are being held against their will, and very little power to change that.

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    AnAppealToCommonSense 5 years

    Good for them! There are many who work in the prisons service who would agree with the plaintiffs in that the conditions are inhumane. Perhaps this case will get more funding for the prisons, to establish adequate living conditions and to decongest prisons. I hope so. For those who want to argue about inmates deserving what they get, please understand that up to a third of people in Zambian prisons have never been convicted of any crime, and that there are many who are not guilty or are in for petty crimes. Crime flourishes where poverty does also, so working to improve social environments makes more of an impact than aggressive penal systems. And remember that prisons are not islands, and unhealthy populations within prisons contribute to unhealthy populations outside of prisons. Here’s a report from 2010 on Zambian prison conditions:

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    Prevention programmes that have been shown to reduce HIV transmission are rarely available for inmates, and many prisoners with HIV are unable to access life-saving antiretroviral treatment. In many parts of the world prison conditions are far from satisfactory and HIV positive inmates barely receive the most basic healthcare and food. Furthermore, mandatory testing is enforced by some prison authorities, which is often seen as a breach of human rights.