FOR inmates to enjoy quality health while in incarceration, key stakeholders in the administration of justice need to put concerted efforts together to make the prison environment more conducive for those who come in conflict with the law to enjoy the right to health.
Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ) with support from the Elton John AIDS Foundation a consultative stakeholders meeting for players in the administration of juvenile justice to map the legal environment in the administration of juvenile justice and establish strategic partnerships with other stakeholders involved in the process of juvenile justice.
CIDRZ is implementing the Elton John Juveniles’ Health project to build the capacity of the Zambia Correctional Services to provide holistically integrated health services to juvenile offenders.
In her opening remarks, CIDRZ Director, TB Programmes Dr Monde Muyoyeta said “most of the work for CIRDZ in prisons has focused on health. Some of the work has been service delivery support and system strengthening for health service delivery, strengthening TB and HIV screening. We do know and acknowledge that there are other partners working in juveniles health. This project focuses on incarcerated juveniles, as they are a vulnerable population especially when they are incarcerated within adult facilities. So the overall purpose of the project aims at providing a comprehensive package of interventions that aim to reduce morbidity, improve the quality of life of incarcerated juveniles, provide support to legal services and a bit ambitious advocacy for judicial reform which will reduce wrongful incarceration.”
And the project manager, Clement Moonga informed stakeholders that “as CIDRZ, we want to understand the current situation and know what different players are doing so that we know where to engage to avoid duplication but rather work together with those that already there. CIDRZ aims at providing legal assistance to 250 unordered juveniles by September 2020. We are going to train social welfare officers in paralegals services in relation to juvenile justice.”
Zambia Corrections Services Head of Corrections, Kennedy Sikaona, said there were a lot of challenges being faced as far as expediting juvenile case disposal. “Currently we have 590 juveniles in incarceration, 335 were ordered to undergo probation programmes at Katombora Reformatory School and Nakambala approved school while 255 are remanded in various correctional facilities. Some of the challenges we are facing now include, distance between courts and where juveniles come from, lack of reception centres where these juveniles are supposed to be received.
“Instead juveniles are taken to available facilities such as remand facilities, and though we have classifications throughout the process where they sleep alone, during the day there is social interaction with adult offenders which compromises the way classification is supposed to be done. There are also delays in approving probation orders for the juveniles. Transportation of juveniles to reformatory centres is another challenge because country wide, we only have one reformatory centre which is in Kazungula with a holding capacity of 160 lads.”