Rights office seeks special intervention by prison authorities, others to protect detainees against cholera


The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has appealed to institutions of justice delivery to take special measures aimed at preventing the outbreak of cholera.

Commission Spokesperson, Mweelwa Muleya, stated that this was with reference to facilities such as detention and correctional facilities.

Muleya made the appeal in a statement issued in Lusaka on Tuesday following the surge in cholera cases which stood at 6,276 cases with 249 deaths.

He noted that individuals deprived of liberty were extremely vulnerable and at a high risk of contracting cholera.

“This is mainly because of overcrowding and inadequate access to water supply and sanitation services,” Muleya stated.

He emphasized that in the face of the outbreak, the authorities should take special measures designed to protect individuals in detention and correctional facilities.

“To this end, the Commission is specifically recommending that the law enforcement agencies, particularly the Zambia Police Service, should scale up their discretionary powers of granting bond to suspects as a way of decongesting police cells and preventing cholera from spreading to deprivation of liberty facilities,” Muleya said.

He called on lawyers, the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) and the judiciary to enhance collaboration and understanding to facilitate granting of bail to deserving suspects and accused persons.

Muleya further stated that efforts should be stepped up to improve the provision of adequate water supply and sanitation services in detention facilities such as in police cells and correctional facilities.

“The routine inspections of detention and correctional facilities by the Commission continue to establish the situation of overcrowding and extremely poor supply of water and sanitation services,” he said.

Read More: ‘Situation on ground not good,’ Health Minister says another 27 dead from cholera in 24 hours

He also expressed concern and that, if Cholera broke out in such overcrowded facilities with inherent poor hygienic conditions, it may jeopardise the rights to health and life of persons held in such facilities, inlcuding the officers maning those facilities.

“It must be appreciated that individuals deprived of liberty are extremely vulnerable because they are at the mercy of the respective authorities for upholding and protecting their own well-being and inherent dignity,” he said.

Mukeya emphasized that the respective institutions in the justice delivery sector had an inescapable obligation to expeditiously institute special and adequate measures aimed at protecting the health and well-being of individuals under their custody.

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