The Commissioner, Dr Vera Mlangazuwa Chirwa, Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Conditions of Detention in Africa visited Namibia from 17 to 28 September 2001. The purpose of this visit was to evaluate and document conditions of detention in Namibia and to start a constructive and permanent dialogue with the government of Namibia with the aim of improving conditions of detention and rehabilitation in Namibia. The Special Rapporteur was accompanied by Dr. Alpha Oumar Sankarela Diallo, Chief Medical Officer, Security and Prison Services, Guinea Conakry;Annie Rashidi, Lawyer at the Commission and Audrey Pascaud, Assistant, France.
Apart from the measures already suggested in the body of the report, the Special Rapporteur would like to add or insist on a certain number of recommendations:
- Access to legal aid should be improved, particularly by reinforcing jurisdictional assistance and by developing mechanisms of para-legal aid with the help of the competent NGOs according to the model of what is being done in Malawi.
- External controls of detention in prisons and police stations should be strengthened. Visiting justices should use to the full the powers conferred on them by the prison law to contribute towards the improvement of conditions of prisons and police stations.
- External controls should be increased and the parliamentary committee on safety should visit prisons and police stations regularly. The Ministries of Home Affairs, of Prisons and of Justice should try to collaborate more effectively with the Ombudsman's office.
- Rules and practices should be harmonised so that all prisoners have the same rights and duties in respect of visits, exercise and permission to go out, etc.
- NGOs should play a more important role in setting up training programmes, preparing prisoners for release, etc.
- Release boards should be made operational without delay.
- Protection of minors should be strengthened both within prisons and in police stations.
- Measures such as parole, judicial control, reductions of sentences, community service, diversion, mediation and permission to go out should all be developed.
- Magistrates should be made aware of non-custodial measures and trained, and their number should be increased, as well as that of lawyers, in order to combat prison overcrowding.
- Communications between personnel and prisoners should be improved to encourage the development of trust, which is necessary for mutual respect to exist.
- Communication between the police, prisons and immigration services should be reinforced in order to allow foreigners awaiting transfer to a refugee camp or deportation to be dealt with without excessive delay.
- The quality and quantity of food should be improved both in prisons and police stations.
- Programmes for the occupation and rehabilitation of prisoners should be strengthened, particularly for juveniles and prisoners serving long term sentences.