2 November 2012

Tanzania: Conjugal Rights to Be Granted to Prisoners

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Man behind bars.

Dodoma — THE Ministry of Home Affairs has plans to grant conjugal rights to prisoners in bid to reduce sexual abuse said to have increased in prisons.The Deputy Minister for Home Affairs Mr Pereira Amme Silima said that the government is now working hard to improve prison environments and once that is completed, it would think of introducing conjugal visits.

Mr Silima was responding to a supplementary question floated by Maryam Salum Msabaha who claimed that denying prisoners conjugal visits only meant that the inmates were denied their biological needs.Ms Maryam drew examples from other countries including China where inmates were allowed to meet with their partners.

She argued that denying prisoners' right to meet their partners was one of the main reasons that led to a surge in HIV/AIDs infections."We should reach a point whereby conjugal visits are allowed for inmates, this will help to curb bad behaviours that typify our prisons including homosexuality," she said, adding that prisoners should be entitled to conjugal rights at least once a month.

Mr Silima said that a married person deserved his or her conjugal rights, and he maintained more time is needed to realize such rights.He is worried that even if the country reached a point where it allowed such visits, homosexuality would not be totally contained since there would be still some inmates who would not be visited.

"The government is analysing the concept, we hope one day prisoners will enjoy such privileges," Mr Silima told the House.Earlier when responding Maryam's basic question which claimed that denying prisoners conjugal visit was a violation of human rights, Mr Silima said that no rights were being violated for there was no section on the law that provides for such needs.

The Deputy Minister said that according to Prisons Act No.34 of 1967 and Prison Management Regulations of 1968, prisoners were only subjected to visits by legal advisors, ministers of religion and other persons.He said that there was no article in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that is being violated.

However, the Constitution and Legal Affairs, Minister Mr Mathias Chikawe felt that by allowing conjugal visits prisons would turn into a place for enjoyment and not punishment.

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