April 27, 2010

Key Recommendations

For Immediate Implementation

  • The President of Zambia should issue a public statement identifying prison conditions and health as a  national crisis and should establish a high-level inter-ministerial task force to urgently develop a national prison health plan
  • The Zambian Parliament should  amend the law to limit the powers to carry out sweeping, group arrests in violation of international law currently enjoyed by the police and Drug Enforcement Commission
  • The Zambian Parliament should address overcrowding by taking steps to expand parole eligibility by amending the Prisons Act and Prisons Rules
  • The Zambia Prisons Service and Ministry of Home Affairs should prohibit the use of penal block practices, and discipline staff and inmates for abuses against prisoners
  • The Zambia Prisons Service and Ministry of Home Affairs should establish the presence of a clinical officer at each prison who can judge prisoner health complaints and facilitate access to outside Ministry of Health medical facilities
  • The Zambia Prisons Service and Ministry of Home Affairs should provide condoms to all prisoners and prison officers, in conjunction with education on harm reduction to increase condom acceptance
  • The Ministry of Justice should issue guidelines for bail administration to encourage increased defendants’ instruction in bail rights and increased granting of bail, considering accurate information about household incomes in Zambia
  • International agencies, donors, and NGOs should integrate discussion of prison health into existing technical advisory committees to the Zambian government

For Intermediate-Term Implementation

  • The Zambia Prisons Service and Ministry of Home Affairs should consistently separate children and adults, and convicted, remand, and immigration detainees
  • The Zambian Parliament should allocate funding for supervision of community-based sentences
  • The Zambian Parliament should repeal or amend Sections 155, 156, and 158 of the Penal Code in order to decriminalize consensual sexual conduct among adults, and implement gender-neutral laws to protect adults and children from sexual violence and assault
  • International agencies, donors, and NGOs should fund and supplement direct health service programs in prisons including TB testing and treatment; women and children’s health; and nutrition support
  • The Zambian judiciary and Ministry of Justice should ensure all detainees, including those under 18, have access to a lawyer of their choice
  • The Ministry of Health should develop a detailed plan for the improvement of prison health services and conditions as part of its National Health Plan 2011-2015

For Long-Term Implementation

  • The Zambian Parliament should secure and international donors should assist with securing enough funding for the prison budget to ensure conditions consistent with international standards. Funding should be sought for facility renovation, upgrading water and sanitation facilities, adequate food, the provision of basic necessities, and adequate prison-based health services
  • The Zambia Prisons Service and Ministry of Home Affairs should establish clear guidelines on the provision of prison-based health services, and scale up those services to:
    • Conduct health screening of all prisoners upon entry and at regular intervals
    • Provide TB screening to all inmates entering prison, and all existing inmates, and ensure prompt initiation on treatment for those with confirmed disease
    • Offer voluntary HIV counseling and testing to all inmates entering prison and all existing inmates and prompt initiation on anti-retroviral treatment
    • Establish clinics at each prison with a consistent supply of essential medications and a minimum capacity to conduct TB and HIV testing and treatment
    • Ensure access to antenatal services, including PMTCT, early infant testing, and ART for infants