Plight of circumstantial children in prison
Published On February 14, 2014 » 3229 Views» By Davies M.M Chanda » Opinion
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Dr SCOTT

Dr SCOTT

PRISONS in Zambia can be devastating; the sight of those walls scares visiting relatives, while new convicts fail to reconcile their minds and body to the harsh environment.
In the words of Republican Vice-President Guy Scott who once declared Mukobeko Maximun Prison in Kabwe as ‘Hell on Earth’ prisons are indeed pathetic.
It was from the same Mukobeko Prison where convicts on death row protested that they would rather be dead than remain in such inhuman conditions.
Maybe, an adult’s mind would somehow survive the mental torture by reflecting on the past, while focusing on the future.
Reports of children either born or living with their mothers serving sentences in prisons are not only sad, but disheartening.
A baby born in any family brings joy, happiness and is also a sign of peace in the family, seeing a newly-born baby cuddled in wool is but pleasant.
Then, we have innocent children who are subjected to harsh conditions of sleeping on the floor, not having adequate clothing and exposed to adults’ indecency.
Worse still are reports that such children are not even catered for on food rations, therefore, end up sharing the dry foods with their mothers.
The cry therefore, by Civil Society Organisations for the amendment of Section 56 of the Prisons Act that provides for children of a woman prisoner go in with the mother but without providing for a separate food ration is justifiable.
AGE Justice International executive director Phillimon Phiri recently said the Prisons Act should be amended so that necessities for the child are supplied by the prison authorities, Social Welfare, Mother and Child Health Departments.
Mr Phiri was right when he addressed stakeholders on conditions for female prisoners and their circumstantial children that Prison department needed to take up the responsibility of children and that there be specific funding for them.
It was unfair that these circumstantial children did not know provision of necessities and
clothing such as formula milk, nappies which is a clear infringement on the human rights of the
child.
There should be serious reflection and call to finding a lasting solution to the challenges of female inmates and their circumstantial children as they serve the prison sentence with their parents against
their human rights.
We, therefore, feel that all children regardless of the circumstances must be given an opportunity to enjoy their human rights in full, so, let there be speedy amendment to the Act in order to protect innocent children .

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