REPORT ON VISIT TO PRISONS IN ZIMBABWE BY PROFESSOR E.V.O. DANKWA, SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON PRISONS AND CONDITIONS OF DETENTION Introduction and Acknowledgement At its 20th Ordinary Session which was held at Grand Bay, Mauritius from 21 -31 October 1996 the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights appointed me as Special Rapporteur on the above subject and charged me with the responsibility of revising the Draft Terms of Reference of my office which was considered by the Commission at that session. Taken the view that a report to the 21st Session on my activities over 6 months which consisted of only procedural matters should be less than adequate, I decided to study the prison regime and related matters of one of the State Parties to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. My decision for so doing stemmed from the fact that whatever controversy there might be on the text to be revised the study of prisons as contemplated by me would be incontrovertible function of my office. Whatever portions which are exercised from the original draft or amended, the study of prisons will remain. I was further fortified in my decision by the unanimous decision of a Consultation on the Draft Terms of Reference and matters connected therewith held in Banjul, The Gambia from 8-12 January 1996 that a visit to the prisons of a country was a course of action worthy of pursuit. Being the first visit, and having to be planned within a short time, I took into account, in the selection of country, factors such as language with which I am familiar, the likelihood of agreement from the relevant officials for my visit, the co-operation I was likely to get from the state officials and NGOs working in the area of my study as well as good communication and road network which would make possible the accomplishment of much within a relatively short time. Mr. L. Chigwida, Commissioner of Prisons, Zimbabwe and other officials were ready to receive me within a very short time of notification of my interest in visiting prisons in Zimbabwe. They extended to me every assistance I needed, and thus eased the burden of my task considerably. February 1995, the Attorney-General, Mr. P.A. Chiwamasa found time to have discussions with me, on the subject of my instant visit in particular and the Commission in general. Mr. Y. Omerjee, Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs briefed me about the open nature of Zimbabwean prisons especially its prisons regime including the efforts being made to sustain a

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