Rights body wades into cases of juvenile offenders in Anambra


IN a bid to tackle incidences of juvenile inmates with petty offences, National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, has waded into cases involving some inmates in Anambra State.

The cases involve no fewer than 523 inmates in Awka and Onitsha prisons.

The body said the move was in line with the commemoration of the African Pre-Trial Day 2019 with theme: “Decriminalisation of Petty and Minor Offences.’’

It was on account of these offences that the NHRC was propelled to undertake the visit.

In a speech at Onitsha Prisons, where the commission interfaced with some juvenile inmates, Nkechi Ugwuanyi, the state coordinator, said the focus was to gather details of the inmates, whose alleged offences fall within the classification.

“This is to enable us to make appropriate interventions toward the decongestion of the prisons through advocacy for decongestion through decriminalisation of petty or minor offences,’’ she added.

While describing the number of juveniles cases recorded as quite high, she noted that inmates, whose cases had been compiled, could have reasons to smile at the end of the exercise.

“Decriminalisation of petty offences are expected to reduce the challenges that pre-trial detention poses on the prison system and the society.

“We encourage stakeholders to affect the law, policy and practice of reforms,’’ Ugwuanyi said.

Earlier, Jerry Mazi, the deputy controller, Onitsha Prisons, called for alternative punishment for juveniles that commit offences rather than remanding them in prison custody.

He specifically sought for construction of “Correctional Centres,’’ with facilities for erring juveniles in the South East as had been done in other zones of the country, so as to keep them away from adults in prisons.

Mazi, however, commended government, churches and public spirited individuals for assisting in the provision of welfare needs of the no few than 1,456 inmates of the prison.

– Apr. 30, 2019 @ 12:12 GMT |

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