BY PRIVELEDGE GUMBODETE
CIVIC groups have taken government to court for detaining minors in the same prison cells as their convicted parents.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and the Justice for Children (JCT) yesterday filed a High Court application citing Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe, Public Service and Social Welfare minister Paul Mavima, prisons boss Moses Chihobvu and chief immigration officer Respect Gono as respondents.
In her supporting affidavit, Jeanette Nyangorore — a national of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who is customarily married to a Zimbabwean, said: “My children have experienced nasty things in the company of these convicted prisoners which range from strong and vulgar language to their conduct, which I would not want to expose my children to. Nonetheless, I had no way of stopping my children from being exposed to this kind of behaviour.”
The affidavit further read: “I would occasionally tell the prison female officials that I did not like the conduct of my other inmates, especially when it exposed my children to wild behaviour. Unfortunately, they advised that nothing could be done about it. I had to get used to prison life.”
The Constitution prohibits detention of minors in the same cells holding convicted adults.
Meanwhile, an international group called Clowns Without Borders (CWB) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have partnered to bring laughter and happiness to refugee children at Tongogara Refugee Camp and the Chipinge district communities as a prelude to commemorations to mark the World Refugee Day on June 20.
“The importance of bringing happiness among children and forgetting the tensions in their lives for even a short time is crucial for building their resilience. Bringing a smile to a kid is a wonderful gift,” UNHCR representative Abdoulaye Barry said in a statement.
The Tongogara Refugee Camp in Manicaland province hosts more than 15 000 refugees and asylum seekers, with half of them being children.