Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison is on the outskirts of Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. The men confined here are held in overcrowded cells, measuring 9m by 4m. Typically speaking there are 25 men per cell. Each day the men are confined to their squalid cells between the hours of 3:30pm and 7:00am. Four to five times a week they are also locked up for the guards lunch break, between the hours of 11:30am and 1:00pm. There are no beds and so the men have to sleep on mats spread out over the crowded cell floor. Some inmates refuse to wash, which results in blankets becoming lice infested. There is a predominance of HIV positive, practising homosexuals within this rat and lice infested prison. The cells are shared with people in the terminal stages of AIDS, Tuberculosis, Herpes and other highly infectious diseases, as well as some prisoners who are mentally ill. Many of the infected prisoners are unable to control their bodily functions, and this results in the cell floor and blankets being contaminated with body fluids; pus, phlegm, blood, urine, faeces. This is in contravention of Article 24 of the International Bill of Human Rights, which covers the state providing a safe environment. The sanitary conditions they are forced to live under are a terrible threat to their wellbeing. Each month they receive ½ toilet roll and 1 ½ small bars of laundry soap. Every 3 months they receive 25mls of toothpaste. Detergents and disinfectants are issued in such minimal amounts that they are non-effective. A ½ cup of scouring powder (Vim) is issued each week, to clean eating utensils for 140 men. The prison has only one pair of old, hand-operated hair-clippers. These clippers are infrequently sterilised and are used by all the prisoners, even those with lice and open body sores. On occasion, some prisoners have even used these clippers to remove pubic hair. There is no hot water for showers in Zimbabwean prisons and so the men are restricted to cold water showers only, even in winter, when the ambient temperature can fall below 0°C. They are provided with small pieces of towel twice a year which soon wear out, and they then have to resort to using pieces of blanket (which may well be infected with lethal diseases) because they are not allowed to supply their own towels. One small transistor radio is shared amongst 140 prisoners, they have no access to television or any other form of recreation. There are also no public telephones for prisoner use. It would appear that the attitude of the Zimbabwe prison authorities is that people in prison have no rights and they are in jail to suffer. The concept of rehabilitation for offenders does not exist. Life imprisonment as defined by the Zimbabwe Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, Chapter 9.07 is "A complete deprivation of personal liberty", however this is in contradiction with guarantees in Section 15(1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and Article 5 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It constitutes degrading punishment contrary to Section 15(1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and violates human dignity, as they are permanently denied access to an inviolable domain of private life. In particular, such treatment constitutes cruel and inhuman treatment in that when they are not afforded any prospect of release, this keeps them in a mental state of depression and complete hopelessness. C/O Save A Life .com
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