Human Rights Day: Maula Prisoners Bemoan Congestion

Prisoners at Maula prison have bemoaned the conditions of their facility and their rights in general.

They said this when the Irish Rule of Law and Paralegal Advisory Service Institute took commemorations of the International Human Rights Day on December 10 to Maula Prison in Lilongwe, Tuesday.

A prisoner at Maula Prison, Prince Mwahimba, cited congestion, lack of food and poor pardoning system as some of the infringements of their rights that need to be addressed.

“A lot is done here in terms of sensitizing inmates on human rights issues. However it is not enough as we wish. We are too congested, and this is a result of many remanded inmates.

This results into another challenge, inadequate food,” said Mwahimba.

Country Program Manager for Irish Rule of Law Maya Linstrum-Newman said space, food, availability of lawyers and length of time taken to appear in court, are some of the human right violations in prisons.

“Imprisonment does not remove their dignity. They are still human and their rights have to be respected,” Linstrum-Newman said.

Senior assistant commissioner of prisons Aaron Kaunda who is also officer in-charge for Maula Prison acknowledged the challenges that inmates in the country’s prisons face.

And in his remarks, chairperson of Prisons Inspectorate Justice Kenani Manda of the high court, said the inspectorate lists down all the challenges faced by inmates and surrender to parliament for deliberation, and plan on what to do.

“Our mandate is to identify the various challenges. That is why we release reports that we submit to parliament to deliberate. But yes, there are many challenges in the country’s prisons,” said Justice Manda.

Maula Prison alone has 2,814 inmates against a holding capacity of 1,400, among which over 700 are on remand from as far as three years ago.

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