05 Mar 2015 08:10am
WALVIS BAY, 04 MAR (NAMPA) Heads of correctional services from southern African countries met in Walvis Bay to discuss challenges facing correctional services.
The two-day meeting which started on Wednesday will also deliberate on ways to improve prison services in the region.
The meeting is organised by the African Correctional Services Association (ACSA).
In addition to Namibia, heads of correctional services from Swaziland, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mauritius, Botswana and Malawi are attending the meeting.
Distressed correctional and prison officers cannot rehabilitate offenders, Minister of Safety and Security Immanuel Ngatjizeko said when he opened the meeting.
He stated that such forums present countries with opportunities to forge good, effective and lasting relations in order to counter mutual security-related challenges in their criminal justice systems.
Ngatjizeko said that while the main objective is to rehabilitate offenders, the key is to have competent staff to achieve that objective.
He stressed that it is therefore important to invest more in staff training and development, while simultaneously ensuring their job satisfaction and addressing their grievances.
The minister noted that the need for regional, continental and international cooperation in the correctional field cannot be over-emphasised.
He said punitive principles of treating inmates are today limited only to those who do not understand the adverse impact this approach has in society after inmates are released.
We as correctional administrators know very well the importance of human rights and effective rehabilitation of inmates who come and go through our facilities, he said.
After the meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will be signed between the Namibian Correctional Services and the Zambian Prisons Service.
This agreement will promote mutual cooperation between the two countries in the area of correctional services.
Speaking at the same event, Erongo Regional Governor Cleophas Mutjavikua used the opportunity to urge ACSA members to work together and promote safe, secure and humane treatment of offenders and also rehabilitate them.
There has been a number of highly publicised incidents and problems regarding the safety of our offenders and the public; this caused widespread public concern. As leaders you should take cognition of the threat this has to democracy, transparency and responsive governance, he advised.