Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal judge Edward Twea has hailed the Adult Diversion Project as an effective mechanism for tackling congestion in the country’s prisons.
Speaking on Friday at the close of a two-day national conference on the programme in Lilongwe, Twea said the project has proven to be an effective and efficient tool for decongesting prisons and correctional facilities in the country.
“We all recall that the Chief Justice raised a few concerns before he issued a practice direction. The concerns were raised to the police, Judiciary, CCJP and other partners. It is how it is done that we need to spend our energies on so that we help many do it in the right manner,” he said.
Twea noted that the country’s prisons and correctional facilities are operating beyond their holding capacity because courts do not give alternative correctional services other than custodial jail sentences.
Catholic Commission for Juctice and Peace (CCJP)board chairperson Cyprian Kambili said the Adult Diversion Project has already proven effective in promoting reconciliation and tolerance in areas where it is being implemented.
He said the conference was, therefore, called to impress upon the Chief Justice to issue a practice direction in the absence of the adult diversion law in this country.
“The commission is working towards developing proper mechanisms for ensuring transparency and accountability to address fears of corruption on the part of police and court officials who will be directly involved in diversion initiatives.
Malawi Police Service regional prosecution officer Levison Mangani said 605 offenders had been diverted by June 16 2017.
CCJP Lilongwe Archdiocese piloted the Adult Diversion Scheme in 18 traditional authorities (T/As) in Lilongwe to decongest Maula Prison.
Through the project, offenders will be doing community service after being tried by a ‘court’ comprising the police, offender and members of the community.
The two-year project is funded by Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (Osisa) to the tune of $100 000 (about K75 million). n