MHRC director of legal services Chrispin Sibande disclosed in an interview on Monday after the commission visited the prison for a European Union (EU)- funded study that the figure is shocking.
He said out of the 663 suspects, 233 are answering murder charges. Sibande said the total number of inmates and those on remand is 1 897 and that there are 51 females and eight babies being held for the â€˜sinsâ€™ committed by their mothers.
Sibande said it is shocking for a single prison to hold over 600 people on remand and described it as a serious threat to the rule of law.
â€˜Overcrowding serious threatâ€™
MHRC commissioner Veronica Sembereka, who led the team that visited the cells and interviewed inmates, the suspects and the prison officials, said the cells are overcrowded.
Sembereka said a cell meant for 80 inmates is holding 193 people or more. She said local prisons have always been overcrowded, but the Judiciary strike has worsened the situation.
Said Sembereka: â€œThe prison officials have been given a lot of work and the budget [for the Malawi Prison Service] will be exhausted if the Judiciary strike is not resolved. The human rights of the suspects are not fully respected because they cannot be taken to court.â€
She said MHRC team, which will also visit other prisons in the Southern Region, is concerned over the congestion and the number of people that are supposed to be taken to courts.
She disclosed that at Chichiri Prison alone, there were reported cases of 22 deaths in the last 12 months.