‘Reforms bail system to address congestions in ‘prisons’

ZANZIBAR has been recording an increasing number of remandees in its prisons because of some restriction to the right to bail.

This was revealed by the Zanzibar Chief Justice (CJ) Khamis Ramadhan Shaaban at the end of his tour of all prisons officially known as reformatory or correctional centres in Unguja and Pemba to listen to the inmates, detainees and prisons officers.

He said that during his visit, the inmates and officers raised concerns over the bailing system.

He said detaining centres were full because of bails for bailable offences have been restricted.

“We may need to review the system without affecting the purpose of strengthening the bail system,” he said.

The Prisons Commissioner Khamis Bakar Khamis said that although the number of imprisoned people is low, remandees are many. The data was not provided.

Right of bail to an accused person is an important aspect to take into account because the law is clear that no person will be held liable unless it is proved expressly that such person is guilty of an offence or otherwise there is some kind of difficulties which the court thinks fit not to grant bail.

Remandees remain innocent until proven guilty. The law does not regard their confinement as punishment. Therefore, remand prisoners are given maximum flexibility within their security rating and have fewer restrictions placed on them than convicted prisoners.

Some human rights activists have been arguing the non bailable laws need to be reviewed because most the magistrates are using it to deny bail particularly suspects of gender-based violence, with specific focus on sexual abuse.

Sexual offences were included in the list of non-bailable offices in 2018 after the review of the criminal procedure act aimed to control abuse of children and women in the society, but the enforcement was strengthened from 2021.

President Hussein Mwinyi vowed to control GBV and related cases in the Islands and including sex offices in the list of non-bailable was intended to achieve the goal and make Zanzibar a peaceful place for children and women.

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