Mozambique: Justice Minister Wants More Efficient Prison Staff

Maputo — Mozambican Justice Minister Joaquim Verissimo on Thursday demanded greater efficiency from agents of the National Prison Service (SERNAP), in the performance of their duties.

Speaking in Maputo at the opening of a meeting of the Coordinating Council of SERNAP, Verissimo stressed the need to value younger members of the prison staff. "We shouldn't be afraid of giving opportunities to these young people so that, alongside more experienced staff members, they can begin to take on responsibilities, since the future belongs to them", he said.

Verissimo also thought it urgent "to specialise our human resources in areas linked to prison security and infrastructures, and in the rehabilitation and social reintegration of prisoners, so that we provide greater protection of society".

"In addition to continual training, it s important to improve the mechanisms of inspection, control and systematic supervision of prison services and establishments, as a way of fighting all initiatives of corruption that can stain the prison system", the Minister added.

He called for zero tolerance of the damaging practices of some SERNAP staff, who have facilitated escapes, and the illicit removal of prisoners, or who have allowed the introduction of forbidden goods, instruments and substances into prison cells in exchange for money or other favours from prisoners.

These corrupt practices, Verissimo said, extended to the behaviour of prison technical councils who sometimes disregard the requirements for parole and give opinions to the courts favouring conditional release for prisoners who do not meet those requirements. He pointed out that this has led to the recent detention of some prison staff.

The meeting is being held under the theme: "Rehabilitation for the social reinsertion of convicted citizens: challenges and prospects".

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