Members of Parliament have called on the government to amend the Prisons Act in an effort to address the issue of increasing incidents of sexual molestation on prisoners and remandees.
Debating the Home Affairs ministry budget estimates for the 2012/13 financial year in Dodoma yesterday, Maryam Msabaha (Special Seat, Chadema) said homosexuality was becoming a big problem in Tanzanian prisons.
“Not all prisoners have committed serious offences…some are so weak to the point of being used for homosexuality. These are human beings who demand justice on such matters,” she said.
Msabaha demanded that the law should be changed to allow prisoners meet their wives and husbands periodically. “They need justice for this one, otherwise the war against HIV/Aids will not be won,” cautioned the MP.
Khalifa Suleiman Khalifa (Gando, CUF), who once was imprisoned, faulted the government for putting together children with adults in some prison cells.
“I have seen this happening at the Segerea Prison in Dar es Salaam where children end up being molested sexually. We need to separate them. It is not fair to mix children with hardcore criminals and other inmates,” he stressed.
“In prison--- I have been there. There are things that an ordinary person cannot withstand. Let’s do justice to these people even if they have committed offences. Let’s act like parents. These children are dying. They are being raped by elders in prisons,” Khalifa said.
For his part, Sadifa Juma Khamis (Donge, CCM) revealed that there was biasness in the Police Force when it comes to upgrading officers. “Police are being given ranks without following proper procedures,” he said, stressing: “The Prisons law must be ammended to address these issues”.
For his part, Haji Khatibu Kai (Micheweni, CUF) accused the Prisons Commissioner for Finance and Administration, Peniel Mgonja for corrupt practices and abuse office.
He said Mgonja had been forcing prison officers’ in-charge to help two foreigners to get Tanzanian passports.
The MP said the Commissioner has changed the Department of Prisons “his own property”, threatening officers that if they failed to implement his orders, they will be shifted to other working stations.
Other MPs who debated the budget estimates are, Sylevester Kasulumbai (Maswa East, CCM), Chiku Obwao (Special Seats, Chadema), Israel Natse (Mbulu, Chadema) and Chade Philipa Mturano (Special Seats, Chadema).