Centre for Human Rights Education and Assistance (Chreaa) has urged political parties to develop simple and clear manifestos for prisoners to enable them make informed decisions in the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
Chreaa executive director Victor Mhango said prisoners have the right to access electoral information and vote. However, he said illiteracy levels are high among inmates; hence, political parties have to produce relevant manifestos for inmates.
He said: “Any prisoner has the right to vote and access information on elections as stipulated in the Constitution. Political parties should ensure that their manifestoes are localised and easy. They should be friendly to inmates and in vernacular languages if possible. This will allow inmates to participate fully in the elections.”
Mhango said Chreaa will be conducting awareness campaigns for all eligible prisoners to access information on the electoral process.
“Also we are sensitising prisoners to their right to vote. We are encouraging them to reduce the number of null and void votes,” he said.
Despite that prisoners have the right to vote, the laws of Malawi do not allow political parties to campaign in prisons. However, civic and voter education is inadequate in the country’s prisons due to, among others, resources.
In 2014, Chreaa reached out to over 10 000 prisoners across the country with civic and voter education.
During that time, the organisation provided inmates with political parties’ manifestoes with names of all aspiring candidates in their respective areas.
Chreaa is a non-governmental organisation that seeks to make justice accessible to marginalised communities.
It was accredited by Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to conduct civic and voter education in the country’s 28 prisons.