By Francis Maingaila
Hundreds of children as young as 10 are kept locked up with adult prisoners in Zambian jails, the country’s Human Right Commission said Friday.
Child convicts and others awaiting sentencing are locked up with hardened adult detainees, commission Chairman Madford Mwandenga told journalists in Lusaka.
“Under no circumstances should children be kept in the same prison with adult offenders,” he said during a commemoration of Human Rights Day.
“The position of the law is that convicted children should immediately be taken to the reformatory school for rehabilitation.”
The commission said there were 558 children aged 10-16 within Zambia’s prison system. Nearly 300 had been convicted and were awaiting transfer to reform schools and 244 were waiting for their cases to go to court.
Children in prison are at risk of abuse and contracting diseases, the commission said.
“Convicted children not only sleep in same cells with older prisoners but are also subjected to same food eaten by senior prisoners,” Mwandenga added.