Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) in partnership with DAPP is implementing a project aimed at contributing to an increased protection of rights and improved living conditions of prisoners and circumstantial children in Zambia.

PSAf is implementing the project Serenje and Mkushi, Mpika and Chinsali, Samfya and Mansa Districts of the Muchinga, Luapula and Central Provinces of Zambia.

This project, which is funded by the European Union in Zambia, is inspired by the fact that despite a number of international and national legal commitments to prisoners’ health, in the recent years, the Zambia Human Rights’ Commission has noted that conditions in Zambia’s prisons are grossly inadequate. Further to this, the international standards call for special provision for children incarcerated with their parents, as well as Section 56 of the Prisons’ Act (which states that the care of circumstantial children ought to fall on public expense), circumstantial children are not provided with the right environment to grow and develop in the fundamental first years of life.

The Prisoners’ Rights are Human Rights Project seeks to raise awareness on the various challenges prisoners face. The project has the following objectives:

  1. To Increase awareness and improve capacity of relevant stakeholders to provide health and legal services to over 1,000 detainees and all circumstantial children in the prison population in Serenje and Mkushi, Mpika and Chinsali, Samfya and Mansa Districts.
  2. To improve the wellbeing, living conditions and protection of over 1,000 detainees and all circumstantial children in the prison population of Serenje and Mkushi, Mpika and Chinsali, Samfya and Mansa prisons.

Under this project, PSAf will implement activities aimed at generating evidence and raising awareness of the different human rights challenges that prisoners face. PSAf will conduct an assessment on the Effects of the Living Conditions on Access to Health and Justice for Prisoners and Circumstantial Children in Zambia of the living conditions in Zambian prisons. The assessment will review the conditions and access to health services by prisoners in relation to the laws and policies in Zambia, identify the gaps in the implementation of the laws and policies that protect the rights of prisoners and circumstantial children and develop recommendations that will inform advocacy for respect and protection of human rights in the prison settings.

 

The results of the report will be used to raise awareness on the gaps identified to ensure better policy implementation in prisons, to enhance understanding of the prisoners’ rights as human rights as well as tackling the policy implementation gaps in protecting and respecting prisoners’ rights and access to services. To further stimulate debates and policy dialogue and influence policy reforms and service delivery in the prisons, the media practitioners will use media articles and documentaries to provide a platform for promoting advocacy around policy changes to ensure that prisoners have access to a safe and secure custody that respects their dignity and human rights in Zambia.

In order to advocate for policy change and adoption to improve the conditions as per the recommendations highlighted by the report, PSAf will conduct roundtable discussions with human rights defenders, CSOs, prison management and the government officials and the policy makers such as the parliamentary committees on health, justice and human rights to foster discussions around building strategies for implementation of the recommendations in the assessment report to ensure human rights protection.

The project will also work with community radio stations to allow for community members to interact with the panelists and ask questions and share opinions. Human rights and public health experts will form part of the panels to bring to the fore the issues of violation of human rights for prisoners and circumstantial.