The Head of the Zambia Corrections Service has clarified that the controversial proposal to start allowing inmates serving life sentences a two-week vacation to visit their families is yet to be signed into law.
Dr Chisela Chileshe told Journalists in Kabwe on Thursday that the proposal is contained in the Zambia Correctional Services Bill 2021 which is yet to be signed into law.
News that inmates serving life sentences will be granted two week vacations on good behavior has been met by uproar with many stakeholders saying the move will pose security risks to society.
But Dr Chileshe clarified that he did not state that President Edgar Lungu had signed into law the piece of legislation that will operationalize the provision that allows inmates to take vacations.
He said what is true however is that there are provisions in the Bill which are looking at improving in mate welfare and vacations are also provided for in the proposed law.
Dr Chileshe admitted that even the soon to be repealed Zambia Prisons Act has some progressive provisions which were over looked.
“Even in the old at Act, provisions are there to administer the welfare of inmates. We have been revising these laws and our Bill went into Parliament and went through all the stages but it is not yet to be signed into an Act,” Dr Chileshe said.
He added, “in the new way of doing things, we are talking about good governance and good practices in the general administration of inmate’s welfare. There are Articles that offer provisions for licenses to be released on condition that the inmates fulfill the conditions.”
“If they commit an offence, then their license is revoked. The Commissioner General has the right to give an inmate time to go and attend to personal, family matters and this time is determined and granted by the Office of the Commissioner General depending on circumstances. This is not strange, it’s enshrined in the Bill and the Act to be. This is good governance and its about managing inmate’s welfare. This has nothing to do with elections, these are the enshrined in our laws.
Dr Chileshe said the soon to be Corrections Act will improve the way to administer the inmates.
“We have put in place what we refer to as the Mandela rules. We won’t be stopped by circumstances. I didn’t say President Lungu has invoked provision to send inmates leave to go and enjoy themselves but I was merely stating the positive provisions contained in the Bill.”