As an adjunct to assisting people to assert their right, the LRF believes it is important to work with relevant service providers and build their capacity to understand and protect people’s rights.
Prison Officers’ Workshops
Twenty workshops were conducted with the Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) during the year, reaching 489 people, 358 males and 131 females, both junior and senior prison officers in all the provinces of Zimbabwe. The workshops covered issues directly linked to the day-to-day duties of the officers and aimed to capacitate them to uphold human rights. The range of topics included bail, UN Minimum Rules and Standards Applicable to Prisoners (Mandela Rules), the Declaration of Rights, law and the courts, the relationship between prisoner and prison officer, child rights and the law, and domestic violence. The pre-workshop tests demonstrated that the officers had low knowledge levels, negative perceptions of people’s rights, and were unable to explain key legal and human rights principles relevant to their work. Post-workshop evaluations illustrated a measurable gain in knowledge and appreciation of the importance of observing the rights of inmates.
“We need more workshops of this nature in order for us to learn about promoting human rights as we conduct our work. I did not think human rights applied to my line of work but after this workshop, I now know better.”
Participants at the prison officers’ workshop in Binga
Prison officer’s Workshop, Bulawayo
The ZPCS has begun to place more importance on the correctional side of their work. One prisoner officer at Kadoma Prison said:
“We used to call them by the name of their crimes, we did not know that our main role is to rehabilitate and correct criminal behaviour but after legal education, we have changed and we call them by their real names.”
Prison Officers in Zvishavane observed:
“We didn’t like inmates to leave prison, we thought once inmates leave jail it means we would also lose our jobs but now we are helping them to apply for bail and we contact LRF to help those who will be in need of legal assistance.”
“Society in general has the perception that if someone works in a legal environment they are expected to know the law but it’s not always the case. I would feel embarrassed when an inmate asked me a simple thing like how he can make an application for bail because before this workshop I did not know much on bail. However, after this workshop I am now equipped to assist inmates in that regard.”
“Before receiving legal education, we did not take seriously the inmates when they complained about sickness, we used not to listen to them and we were not aware that we were actually committing a crime. After undergoing training, we make sure that each inmate who complains against illness is taken to the hospital because it is their right to get medication.” (Banket Open Prison)
“This workshop has indeed come at a good time, especially the topics on the rights of inmates and Declaration of Rights. At the depots we were mainly trained as officers and not correctional officers. I was not aware of what the Constitution says in respect of the rights of accused persons and the declaration of rights in general.”
Police Officers’ Workshops
The main objective of the workshops was to capacitate Victim Friendly Unit officers with skills and knowledge to enable them to discharge their duties, particularly in gender-based violence cases. A total of seven workshops were conducted in Mutare and Bulawayo, attended by 146 officers, 74 women and 72 men. It was not possible to get clearance in other provinces. The topics covered were Declaration of Rights, essential elements of sexual offences with particular emphasis on wilful transmission, gender-based violence, child rights and access to justice for children, management of sexual cases, and docket compilation.
Police Officers at a workshop in Chinhoyi
Traditional Leaders’ Workshops
In its endeavour to improve access to justice for the rural population whose cases are governed by customary law the LRF developed a training module for traditional leaders in partnership with the Judicial Service Commission and the Chiefs’ Council and subsequently translated into both Ndebele and Shona. A training of trainers workshop for nine provincial magistrates and eight LRF staff was held on 18 March 2016. The main facilitators were the President of the Chiefs’ Council, Senator Chief Charumbira, his deputy, Senator Mtshane Khumalo, and the Chief Magistrate, Mr Guvamombe. Key areas covered included grounds for review of cases by the magistrate; the statutory instrument on enforcement of judgments by local courts; issuing of warrants of execution by local courts; the issue of making a third party pay; jurisdiction of local courts both territorial and monetary; ethics and anti-corruption; and how to write a claim.
The national training programme took off on 8th April and over the next three months 215 chiefs, including three female chiefs, from eight provinces were trained. The training focused on the concept of law and court procedure and helped the chiefs understand their roles as presiding officers in community courts, how to handle issues involving their culture, customs and norms and which cases they should preside over and which were beyond their jurisdiction.
Chiefs of Matabeleland South
Chiefs of Manicaland
It was too early to evaluate the impact of the training but initial feedback from some provincial magistrates indicated that there was a positive attitude change with the traditional leaders developing a good working relationship with magistrates.