Hichilema, whose incarceration on treason related charges has widely been condemned, is entering his third month behind bars.
The leading opposition leader was first held in Lilayi before being transfered to Chimbokaila in Lusaka and is now held at Mukobeko.
UPND officials have decried conditions in which Hichilema is held describing them as “pathetic” and unfit for human habitation.
But the prisons service has issued a statement clarifying the position.
“HH is being treated fairly like any other remand prisoner in accordance with the available facilities at Mukobeko Maximum Correctional Center. It is unrealistic for the UPND to demand that HH must be given ‘special treatment or special cell.’,” part of the statement by public relations officer Margaret Nawa reads.
BELOW IS THE FULL STATEMENT FROM THE CORRECTIONAL SERVICE
Wednesday 14th June 2017
ALLEDGED MISTREATMENT OF HH AT MUKOBEKO MAXIMUM CORRECTIONAL CENTER
The Zambia Correctional Service is disappointed with the continued propaganda by the UPND over its incarcerated leader Mr Hakainde Hichilema. In its latest propaganda, the UPND through its spokesperson Charles Kakoma has alledged that Mr Hichilema is being dehumanized in his cell at Mukobeko Maximum Correctional Center in Kabwe.
Contrary to the allegations by Mr Kakoma, the facts on the ground are that:
HH is being treated fairly like any other remand prisoner in accordance with the available facilities at Mukobeko Maximum Correctional Center. It is unrealistic for the UPND to demand that HH must be given ‘special treatment or special cell.’ It is also important for the UPND and the members of the public at large to know that there are no special cells in prison as all prisoners are treated equally The Service does not discriminate persons detained in its facilities based on their social class, religion, tribe or any other identification.
Therefore, there is nothing unlawful by giving HH the same facilities available to other prisoners. But the UPND as well as those concerned must be assured that Mr Hichilema, just like any other prisoner incarcerated at Mukobeko Maximum Security Correctional Center, is in safe custody as he waits for trial before the High Court.
It is also cardinal for members of the public or the UPND community to know that a prison cannot be compared to a home and this is a fact. Therefore expecting that someone will live in a prison like he or she does at home is unrealistic. We should work hard as a country to improve prisons conditions to make them better and the UPND MPs as law makers are better placed to be among the advocates of increased funding to the Zambia Correctional Service in that regard.
HH’S MOVEMENT TO MUKOBEKO MAXIMUM CORRECTIONAL CENTER
It is disturbing that the UPND has continued to questioning the Service’s move to transfer Mr Hichilema from Lusaka Central Correctional Center to Mukobeko Maximum Security Correctional Center in Kabwe. The Services wishes to reiterate that the move was done in accordance with the Law.
Section 68 of the Prisons Act Cap 97 of the Laws of Zambia states that “The Commissioner (Commissioner General in this case) may by any general or special order , direct that any prisoner shall be removed to any prison other than that in which he is confined or to which he had been committed.” There are many reasons why this could be done and in this case, the move is based on security reasons.
VISITATIONS TO HH
Again, the Service is compelled to repeat itself on this matter to make the UPND understand. Regarding visitations to a prison, the prisons rules, in section 132 part 1 and 2 are clear on this one as it states that “no prisoner shall be allowed more than three visits at any one time and all visits to a prisoner shall take place during such hours as the officer-in charge may direct.” A prison is a security institution that cannot be visited anyhow like a “tavern” or “pub”.
We are a Service that operates professionally and within the confines of the law. We are also a Service that respects the inherent dignity of a human person in accordance with the International Human Rights and this does not exclude Mr Hichilema.
In conclusion, the Service wishes to appeal to the UPND and other interested persons in this matter to familiarize themselves with the provisions in the Prisons Act and the Prisons subsidiary legislation.
HEAD- PUBLIC RELATIONS