The Centre for Human Rights Education, Assistance and Advice (CHREAA) and the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) are lauding the recent accomplishments of some inmates in Malawi who have been accepted into various public universities. Despite the challenges faced by the Malawian prison system, the achievement of these inmates highlights the potential for education to transform lives.
One inmate’s remarkable achievement of attaining 16 points and securing admission for a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree at MUBAS, and another inmate scoring 19 points and gaining admission for a Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts Degree at Mzuzu University, has garnered attention and praise from human rights advocates.
Victor Mhango, the Executive Director of CHREAA, expressed excitement over the high-achieving inmates’ accomplishments, emphasizing that their dedication and resilience in difficult circumstances deserve recognition. Mhango urged the government to widen the criteria for considering Presidential pardons to include these exceptional individuals, as their continued incarceration hampers their potential contribution to society.
CHREAA and SALC draw attention to the ongoing efforts to reform the management of prisons through the proposed Prison Bill. The bill aims to promote the rehabilitation of prisoners and create a parole system for fairer release procedures before sentence completion. In his State of the Nation Address on February 18, 2023, President Lazarus Chakwera pledged to review and advance the Prison Services Bill, bringing hope for improved opportunities for high-achieving inmates.
To this end, CHREAA and SALC appeal to President Chakwera to exercise his prerogative powers and pardon these talented inmates selected for higher education, allowing them an opportunity for transformation and better citizenship. Both organizations assert that providing access to education through the parole system aligns with the broader goal of prison reform – emphasizing rehabilitation over punishment.
The plight of last year’s selected inmates, who still remain in prison, underscores the urgency of law reform in the prison system. Nelson Mandela’s words, “A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones,” resonate strongly as calls for a fair and just approach to prisoners’ rehabilitation grow louder.