Tony Okafor, Awka
No fewer than 523 children are detained in various prisons in Anambra State, the National Human Rights Commission has said.
The Anambra State coordinator of the NHRC, Mrs Nkechi Ugwuanyi, stated this at the Onitsha Prisons during an interface with some juvenile inmates.
Ugwuanyi said the visit was in commemoration of the African Pre-Trial Day 2019 themed: Decriminalisation of Petty and Minor Offences.
She added that the focus was to gather details of the inmates, whose offences fell within the classification.
She said such cases involved no fewer than 523 inmates in Awka and Onitsha prisons.
“It’s on account of these offences that NHRC is propelled to undertake this visit.
“The focus is to gather details of the inmates, whose alleged offences fall within the classification,” she said.
While describing the number of juvenile cases recorded as quite high, she assured that inmates whose cases had been compiled would “have reasons to smile at the end of the exercise.”
“Decriminalisation of petty offences is expected to reduce the challenges that pre-trial detention poses on the prison system and society.
“We encourage stakeholders to effect the law, policy and practice of reforms,” she said.
Speaking, the Deputy Controller of Onitsha Prisons, Mr Jerry Mazi, called for alternative punishment for juveniles that committed offences rather than remanding them in prison custodies.
He recommended the construction of what he called “Correctional Centres” with facilities for erring juveniles in the South East as had been done in some parts of the country so as to keep them away from adults in prisons.
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He commended churches and public spirited individuals for assisting in the provision of welfare needs of no fewer than 1,456 inmates of the Onitsha prison.