–The Prisons Care and Counselling Association (PRISCCA) says the release of about 3,000 prisoners by President Sata since he assumed office is a clear demonstration of his heart for freedom and justice for all.
PRSCCA Executive Director Godfrey Malembeka said currently there are about 5, 000 suspects in remand prison awaiting trial with about 11, 000 others appearing in courts across the country.
Speaking when he officiated at the launch of the Legal Service Unit (LSU) at Lusaka new magistrate complex this morning, Mr. Malembeka therefore called for government’s collaboration with civil society and international communities saying the move is key to the improvement of state of affairs in prisons.
Mr. Malembeka observed that people have continued to be remanded for longer periods of time because of the inadequacies of access to legal assistance and representation.
He said because of the prolonged trials and detention caused by failure to access bail and lack of legal representation some inmates have ended up being abandoned by their families.
He however thanked the Patriotic Front government for opening a new prison in Mwembeshi to decongest Mukobeko prisons in Kabwe.
He said PRSCCA has for the past twelve years been striving to collaborate with other stakeholders in ensuring that judicial systems in Zambia are reformed and access to justice is enhanced.
And Lusaka Judge in Charge, Jane Kabuka has urged members of the public to make use of the legal Service Unit.
Judge Kabuka said the launch of the Legal Service Unit is a clear demonstration of what government is doing to help alleviate the suffering of people in remand and those facing charges in courts.
She observed that the Legal Service Unit will give a direct benefit to the local people through its various services in legal matters.
She said the unit will provide among others psycho-social counselling especially in matters where the parties involved needed rehabilitation after trial or before trial.
Meanwhile Lusaka Magistrate Joshua Banda expressed happiness at the launch of the unit stating that this move has been long awaited.
He however urged staff that will be operating in the legal Service Unit to be proactive in helping the vulnerable in society by providing quick and professional advice and guidance on court conduct and procedures.