Speech of the Ambassador of the European Union, H.E. Alessandro MARIANI
"Handover Ceremony of ZLDC Report and Recommendations:
Review of Prisons Act and Allied Legislation"
26 October 2017
Minister of Justice, Hon. Given Lubinda,
Commissioner General for Zambia Correctional Services, Mr Chato Percy
Zambia Law Development Commission Chairperson, Mrs Justice Roydah Kaoma
UNDP Country Director, Mrs Mandisa Mashologu
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for organising this hand-over ceremony of the review of Prisons Act and Allied Legislation. This is an important milestone for Zambia first and foremost but also for the European Union, as a partner of Zambia, not only because the EU supported the drafting of this report, but most of all because the EU attaches central importance to the development of a legislative framework that adheres to the principles of human rights and to the provisions of the constitutional amendments.
The protection of prisoners' rights is a subject of particular importance for the European Union, and it is one of the Human Rights priorities in our comprehensive dialogue with Zambia.
It is precisely in this context that we decided to provide support to Zambian Law Development Commission as part of a more global programme specifically dedicated to the protection of prisoners' rights in correctional centres across the country.
This programme is mainly being implemented by civil society organisations – PRISCCA, CeLIM, and DAPP – and consists in the provision of healthcare, education and legal services to inmates. As a complement of the work done by civil society, the European Union decided to support a public institution such as the Zambia Law Development Commission, in the legislative sector of prisons reform. With the EU contribution, ZLDC has been in a better position to fulfil its mandate documenting prison reforms and making recommendations to reform processes.
The European Union is committed to support prison reforms in Zambia, taking a holistic approach to implement changes to the criminal justice system as a whole. To this end, a parallel programme called Programme for Legal Empowerment and Enhanced Justice Delivery – PLEED - includes the establishment of paralegal helpdesks in Correctional Facilities.
The European Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity and human rights, and these values also apply to persons deprived of liberty through judicial sentencing. These values are also shared by Zambia and the country is party to a number of international instruments that promote the rights of persons in detention. Therefore, the implementation of this project with ZLDC also provides an avenue for the compliance with and incorporation of human rights and correctional services standards to which Zambia has subscribed.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me recall that in less than two months, I have had several times the opportunity to meet and work with the Honourable ministers (high level visit tour of correctional centres in August, launching of the Symposium on Legal and Administrative Reforms to Address Congestion in Correctional Facilities in September, and more recently in October a joint Press Conference on the abolition of Death Penalty). Each subject was linked and reflects a clear interest of the Government of Zambia towards the rights of prisoners.
Today, I see the handover of the review of Prisons Act and Allied Legislation by ZLDC to the Honourable Ministers as another important step in the Zambian path towards prisons reform and protection of prisoners' rights.