Constitutionally established Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has asked government to address unique and special needs conditions vulnerable prisoners are facing in the country’s prisons.
MHRC executive secretary Grace Malera made the remarks in an interview in Blantyre yesterday when the commission conducted a monitoring exercise specifically targeting children and prisoners with disabilities at Chichiri Prison.
She said there are two categories of children in prisons and these are those that born while their mothers are serving sentences while others are brought in the prisons with their mothers as infants.
Malera observed that the needs of these children are not included on prisons budget allocations.
On prisoners with disabilities, Malera said while some come to prisons with disabilities, others are incapacitated while in prison, maybe due to illnesses and most often, the infrastructure in prisons is not disability-friendly.
In an interview later, Chichiri Prison station officer Hudscot Mtegha said, currently, the prison has three children and it is difficult for the institution to buy nutritious food such as milk and porridge flour for the children because the prison does not have funds to enable it to do so.
Chichiri Prison has a capacity of 800 prisoners, but as of Monday, 1 630 prisoners were imprisoned at the facility, according to Mtegha.
The number is causing serious congestion problems as, for instance, one cell which has got a 20-people holding capacity is housing about 87 individuals while another with a 40-people holding capacity is accommodating 163 individuals.