Zimbabwe prisoners deprived of ARVs

Zimbabwe prisoners deprived of ARVs
Published: 24 September 2017 (139 Views)
Pre-trial detainees claim an acute shortage of anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) has hit the country's prisons and correctional facilities, and is now threatening their survival.

While tendering their mitigation factors, and as they appear in court for bail hearings or during sentencing, prisoners have of late relayed fears of having their lives cut short due to lack of proper health services provision at Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) facilities.

Last week, 29-year-old Fortune Sibanda, an ex-cop who was jailed three years for robbery had pleaded with Harare regional magistrate, before receiving his sentence, to be spared jail because for the 13 months that he stayed in remand prison awaiting his judgment, ZPCS allegedly deprived him of ARVs.

"Your worship, may I be given a non-custodial sentence because I am an HIV patient and fear that I may not last long if I go to jail since there is no treatment. People who understand how ARVs are taken know that a person must not stop once they begin taking the drugs for them to be effective," Sibanda said.

"We were not getting regular dosages of cotrimoxazole and other ARVs because they are not available there," he said.

Sibanda is not the only one.

After his six week's incarceration at remand prison, anti-President Robert Mugabe cleric, Phillip Mugadza, confirmed that the only medication he was availed was basic pain killers.

"I swear that place is a health ticking time bomb, inmates are denied basic human needs like food, clothing, toiletries and we cannot begin to talk about ablution facilities.

"The institution has no capacity to provide medical facilities and in most cases when a person falls ill they are given pain killers. Worst case scenarios are the ones referred to major hospitals outside prison," Mugadza said.

Mugadza described the living conditions as inhumane and said detainees were at great risk of contracting communicable diseases — which the government would not be able to treat.

ZPCS public relations head, Priscilla Mtembo, had not responded to emailed questions by time of going to print.

Analysts have said that access to health and medical facilities is a basic human right that must be protected by government, which is responsible for prisoners' welfare.

Former legislator, Job Sikhala, now a lawyer, said legal action must be taken against the government if they fail to fulfil their mandate.

"There is need to enforce the rights of every citizen through taking constitutional measures to compel those who have no respect for the rights of others to comply," Sikhala said.

"ZPCS must be dragged to court to be compelled to act within the framework of constitutionalism."

MDC spokesperson, Obert Gutu, echoed similar sentiments and said ZPCS must meet basic needs of all prisoners under their watch.

"The government has a constitutional obligation to make sure that all inmates in our prisons and correctional facilities are looked after in a humane and rehabilitative manner. Thus, HIV positive inmates have to be supplied with ARVs by the State through the ZPCS which administratively falls under the ministry of Justice,"Gutu said.

"Prisoners shouldn't be treated in a cruel, degrading and dehumanising manner. The modern trend in correctional services the world over is to focus on the rehabilitation of the offender as opposed to merely punishing them. Prisons should thus, be more rehabilitative than punitive institutions."

The State of prisons in Zimbabwe and ZPCS's operational capacity has been constrained by lack of funding and the country's bleeding economy.

The institution has often failed to bring suspects to court for hearings, feed and clothe them.

In 2006, the then Judge president of the High Court of Zimbabwe justice Rita Makarau, expressed concern over the conditions of pre-trial detainees who were being held at one of Zimbabwe's largest remand prisons — Harare Central Prison.

During a visit to the prison, Makarau met a number of pre-trial detainees, including at least 10 who had been held on remand for 10 years without trial.

She described their plight as "embarrassing and disturbing" and stressed that the courts had "no excuse for this delay. It is imperative prisoners who deserve to be released should not stay here."

The Constitution of Zimbabwe includes a Declaration of Rights, which guarantees fundamental rights to all persons, including those accused of committing criminal offences and awaiting trial.

Rights specific to pre-trial detainees include the right to liberty and the right to the protection of the law, which, according to Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights includes "the right to a fair trial within a reasonable period and the right to innocence until proven guilty as well as freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment".

Despite these constitutional guarantees, Zimbabwe continues to face challenges in ensuring the enjoyment of rights by pre-trial detainees, even though these rights are bestowed on them the moment they are arrested and detained.

- dailynews

Tags: ARV, Prison, Zimbabwe,

You May Like These Videos


There are no comments.

Latest stories

Soldiers cause havoc at Victoria Falls International Airport

by Staff Reporter | 10 December 2017 | 78 Views

Victims of Zimbabwe genocide still wait for justice

by Staff reporter | 10 December 2017 | 43 Views

WATCH: Talking about Gukurahundi is irresponsible - Mnangagwa advisor

by Staff reporter | 10 December 2017 | 70 Views

Drunk soldier arrested after firing two bullets in a bar

by Simbarashe Sithole | 10 December 2017 | 133 Views

SA biggest corporate scandal fails to make it into Sunday papers

by Staff reporter | 10 December 2017 | 83 Views

Focus on China's role in Mugabe ouster missed the bigger picture

by Cobus van Staden, South African Institute of International Affairs and Chris Alden, London School of Economics and Political Sci | 10 December 2017 | 113 Views

Be an active citizen: know your rights

by Linda Tsungirirai Masarira | 10 December 2017 | 83 Views

Votes do matter - Register to vote

by Otis Mabikwa | 10 December 2017 | 61 Views

Mnangagwa needs to cure the coup, as his govt is illegitimate

by Staff reporter | 10 December 2017 | 101 Views

Mnangagwa craft Zanu-PF's post-Mugabe survival strategy

by Staff reporter | 10 December 2017 | 116 Views

Minister Chikukwa, 3 bigwigs to be expelled from Zanu-PF

by Staff reporter | 10 December 2017 | 203 Views

Makarau's resignation opens a can of worms

by Staff reporter | 10 December 2017 | 162 Views

Tsvangirai, Khupe in fresh clash

by Staff reporter | 10 December 2017 | 67 Views

Cops, soldiers arrested over $5 bribe at roadblock

by Simbarashe Sithole | 10 December 2017 | 460 Views

Kasukuwere explains how he escaped snippers with Jonathan Moyo

by Staff reporter | 07 December 2017 | 3286 Views

LISTEN: Chipanga will sue the State, says Madhuku

by Staff reporter | 07 December 2017 | 1096 Views

Police ordered to abolish roadblocks

by Staff reporter | 07 December 2017 | 975 Views

Is Tsvangirai entitled to be in new government?

by Immigration Maziwisa | 07 December 2017 | 896 Views

WATCH: 2018 National Budget Presentation - Chinamasa

by Staff Reporter | 07 December 2017 | 373 Views

Civil servants bonuses to be paid next year but staggered

by Staff Reporter | 07 December 2017 | 303 Views

UK Diaspora sends investment mission to Zimbabwe

by Staff reporter | 07 December 2017 | 263 Views

Chombo, Chipanga fight for freedom

by Staff reporter | 07 December 2017 | 168 Views

Pokello's paradise crumbling

by Staff reporter | 07 December 2017 | 400 Views

Operation restore legacy to descend at Beitbridge border post

by Staff Reporter | 07 December 2017 | 213 Views

#Zimbabwe budget cost cutting measures highlights

by Stephen Jakes | 07 December 2017 | 202 Views

Zodwa Wabantu Zimbabwe show flops

by Staff Reporter | 07 December 2017 | 341 Views

Agriculture estimated to grow by 15.9%

by Staff Reporter | 07 December 2017 | 152 Views

Tsvangirai misled party on Mnangagwa's cabinet

by Harare Post reporter | 07 December 2017 | 579 Views

Good budget but lacks clarity on fundamental reforms

by Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo | 07 December 2017 | 267 Views

WATCH: Kasukuwere speaks for the first time

by Staff reporter | 07 December 2017 | 921 Views

Accident claims 2

by Staff reporter | 07 December 2017 | 196 Views

Bucket of maize as maintenance

by Staff reporter | 07 December 2017 | 143 Views

Chipanga granted bail

by Staff reporter | 07 December 2017 | 133 Views

BREAKING: Jonathan Moyo, Kasukuwere accounts, assets to be frozen

by Staff reporter | 07 December 2017 | 127 Views

Chombo granted bail

by Staff reporter | 07 December 2017 | 76 Views

President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Cabinet starts hitting the ground

by Leonard Koni | 07 December 2017 | 350 Views