Prison officers’ workshops
The LRF understands that it is not enough to provide the indigent with legal assistance and legal education if the structures within the justice system do not facilitate access to justice for the general population. Thus, the organization works with service providers within the justice system to capacitate them so that they respect human rights and facilitate justice for all. During the past year, the LRF worked primarily with the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS).
LRF Harare Centre Manager Cathrine Chimanda facilitating at the ZPCS workshop in Harare for Senior Officers
Seven workshops were held with junior and senior prison officers during the year, reaching 159 officers, of which 96 were males and 63 were females. Critical areas discussed were the UN minimum standards for the treatment of inmates (Mandela Rules), bail, special categories of prisoners and the relationship between a prison officer and inmates.
A Prison officer’s workshop in Kwekwe
Through monitoring and evaluation, the LRF noted changes in attitude and behavior in the ZPCS officers with regard to inmates’ rights. The trained officers now acknowledge that prisoners have rights too and they contact the LRF promptly when a juvenile is likely to be incarcerated. The ZPCS gives the LRF access to prisons to conduct outreaches on issues affecting prisoners, such as bail application and the Declaration of Rights. One ZPCS Officer had this to say:
“This workshop was so enlightening. ZPCS legal department should be fully supported in terms of resources so that they impart the human rights knowledge to all officers.”
Another senior officer said:
“Now that I have been informed about prisoners’ rights contained in the Constitution, I cannot continue to argue with the law. I have to read the Constitution and reform accordingly. As Officer In Charge, I have to implement the law through our junior officers in the prisons.”