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Zimbabwe to open prisons for mothers

The Zimbabwean government is working on setting up an open prison to accommodate female prisoners with minors, a senior government official said on Thursday. Deputy Justice Minister, Fortune Chasi, told a parliamentary committee that progress on establishment of the open prison in Marondera, about 70 kilometres east of Harare was, however, been hampered by shortage of resources. “The issue of children in prisons is a matter that is of critical concern to us in the ministry in that it saddens us to see young children in prison who have not committed any crime,” Chasi said. He said the move would not only de-congest prisons but also ensure proper diet is given to these children as currently the prison diet is not meant for children. He said in some cases prison authorities had tried to separate inmate mothers from their minor children but had faced difficulties as the mothers refused. Chasi did not give the number of children that were in prison with their serving mothers, though the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services Commissioner-General, Paradzai Zimondi revealed in January 2014 that there were about 69 children in the country’s 42 prisons. He appealed then to organisations and individuals to assist by adopting the children. Report says most prisons in Zimbabwe are overcrowded and often lack adequate food and clothing for prisoners, adding that the prison population stands at about 16,000 after President Robert Mugabe recently pardoned 2,000 inmates.
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