443 children reside with  parents in Prison-govt

08May 2019
Polycarp Machira
The Guardian
443 children reside with  parents in Prison-govt

ABOUT 443 Children below the age of five years were residing in prisons with their parents between 2015 and 2017, the House heard yesterday.

Deputy minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, the Elderly and Children , Faustine Ndugulile said the children had their mothers either serving jail sentence or remand prisons.

He said in 2015, there 160 children in different prisons and remand cells in the country, in 2016 there were 85 while in 2017 they were 108 children.

However he said such children are in day care centres where they learn various skills to build them psychologically, mentally, physically, morally and ethically.

The deputy minister was responding to a question from Special Seats MP, Mariam Kisangi (CCM) who had said that children living in the prisons with their mothers go to school and come back to the prisons, terming it psychologically and morally wrong.

“This trend is not right for children who need a lot of care for their growth and development. What is the government doing to help children who face such challenges?” she asked.

  The deputy minister in his response noted that the presence of such children in the prisons and remand prisons is due to the fact that their mothers be convicted, serving jail terms or waiting for court rulings on the cases facing them.

He clarified that there are no such children who attend schools and come back to join their mothers in custody except those who  are below two years of age who are forced to live with their mothers to get their right to be breastfed.

“In cases where children above two years old and not more than five years are obliged to stay with their mothers in prisons, the authorities ensure they attend day care centres,” he said.

He said  section 144 of the Law of Child Act, No 21 of 2009 and the regulations on child protection of 2015 and the regulations of child protection in prison  of 2018, provides for how to take care of children and ensure they get all the needed support.

Ndugulile noted that the above legislations clearly state the requirements to provide complete meal, health services as well as vaccines.

He said the main reason for having the children attend day care centres during the day is to ensure they do not stay in prisons but get opportunity to learn other skills.