The Ex-Prisoners Rehabilitation Society of Tanzania has called on the government to amend or repeal outdated laws and regulations governing the prisons department because many of them violate international human rights.
The society said the government, human rights organisations and other stakeholders should use the constitutional review process to repeal stringent laws that impinged on human rights in prisons.
The call was made yesterday by the society’s secretary general, Dr Alfred Kaaya, at a press conference in Dar es Salaam.
Dr Kaaya said many laws governing the prisons department violated human rights because they were adopted from the colonial period and since then they had never been reviewed.
He said despite attaining independence in 1961, the laws used in prisons remained unchanged and hardly did they comply with international human rights instruments Tanzania had ratified.
“The nature of the laws governing the prisons department today is to punish prisoners instead of reforming and training to acquire social skills and be good citizens,” he said.
He noted that, when the father, who is in many families the family’s bread-winner, got imprisoned and it happened that his wife is a house wife, there were no alternative means of income for the family, something, which deprived it of its meaningful future.
“When the father is imprisoned, for sure, school children will stop, and this, may attract the children to engage in crimes to make ends meet although it is not their intention,” he said.
However, he urged members of the public to change their negative perception towards ex-prisoners saying most of them experienced rejection and discrimination, which should be stopped.
In another development, the society has congratulated Dr Reginald Mengi for his moral and material support that has enabled the society to launch a carpentry workshop and sawmills in Moshi and Arusha respectively.
Dr Kaaya said Dr Mengi’s financial support had been of great support because it did not only expand the society’s number of projects but it also helped them to create jobs to ex-prisoners who, without such support would have been jobless.
As the society gears up for opening new zonal and regional branches in Dar es Salaam, Dodoma and Mwanza, Dr Kaaya urged other stakeholders to emulate Dr Mengi’s support saying continued financial support would help expand the project and reach a wider community in other parts of the country.
The Ex-prisoners Rehabilitation Society of Tanzania, which works under the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT), Northern Diocese in Moshi, was established in June 2009 and it has a total of 184 members countrywide.