Pris­on­ers’ chil­dren get more time

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Aux­ilia Ka­ton­go­mara Chron­i­cle Re­porter

THE Pris­ons and Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices Bill has widened the rights of women as well as in­fants liv­ing with them, with the time a child can spend with a par­ent in jail be­ing raised to five years.

Pre­vi­ously women were al­lowed to stay with their ba­bies for only two years, but that has been ex­tended to four years and 11 months.

The Bill also says that author­i­ties are com­pelled to make ar­range­ments to en­sure that chil­dren of in­mates are born in a hos­pi­tal out­side the prison.

If a child is born in prison, the birth cer­tifi­cate must not give that as the place of birth to avoid stig­ma­tis­ing the child.

How­ever, the Bill is silent on what must be stated as the place of birth in place of the cor­rec­tional fa­cil­ity.

The pro­posed leg­is­la­tion says a preg­nant in­mate shall be ad­mit­ted into a fe­male prison or a sec­tion of a prison set apart for fe­male in­mates only. It also says Trea­sury must pro­vide fund­ing for in­mates’ chil­dren as the law in op­er­a­tion now makes pro­vi­sions for in­mates only.

“In a fe­male prison or cor­rec­tional fa­cil­ity or in a sec­tion of a prison or cor­rec­tional fa­cil­ity set apart for fe­male in­mates, there shall, as far as is prac­ti­ca­ble, be spe­cial ac­com­mo­da­tion for all nec­es­sary pre-na­tal and post–na­tal care and treat­ment,” reads part of the Bill.

It also says an in­fant ad­mit­ted into prison shall be sup­plied with food, cloth­ing and other ne­ces­si­ties by the State un­til he or she reaches 59 months.

Af­ter at­tain­ing that age, an in­fant can be handed over to a rel­a­tive or friend who is will­ing to of­fer sup­port on the rec­om­men­da­tion of a med­i­cal of­fi­cer or the of­fi­cer in charge of a prison af­ter con­sid­er­ing the best in­ter­ests of that child.

If there is no rel­a­tive or friend will­ing to look af­ter the in­fant, it is pro­posed that the child would be taken to a chil­dren’s home or handed over to the de­part­ment of so­cial wel­fare as ap­proved by the Com­mis­sioner Gen­eral of Pris­ons.

Pris­ons le­gal ser­vices di­rec­tor Se­nior As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Speto­so­musa Chi­nobva said the Bill seeks to pro­mote both women’s and chil­dren’s rights.

“We looked at the prin­ci­ple that says we have to look at the child’s best in­ter­ests. For a child aged five and be­low, their in­ter­est is to keep as close to their mother as pos­si­ble,” said Snr Asst Comm Chi­nobva.

She said cur­rently chil­dren are not catered for in the bud­get for pris­ons and they rely on do­na­tions from well­wish­ers.

“I know some peo­ple might want to ar­gue that you want to keep chil­dren in jail but we are ac­tu­ally ad­dress­ing the sit­u­a­tion that is cur­rently pre­vail­ing in pris­ons. We are saying if you got to prison to­day you will find chil­dren aged four and five but they are not catered for in the bud­get,” Snr Asst Comm Chi­nobva said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.