The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, has said not less 523 children are currently languishing in different prisons in Anambra State.
This was disclosed by the Anambra State coordinator of the NHRC, Mrs Nkechi Ugwuanyi, during an interface with juvenile inmates at the Onitsha Prisons.
According to Ugwuanyi, the visit was to commemorate the African Pre-Trial Day 2019 with the theme ‘Decriminalisation of Petty and Minor Offences’ and gather details of the inmates, whose offences fell within the classification.
“It’s on account of these offences that NHRC is propelled to undertake this visit.
“The focus is to gather details of the inmates, whose alleged offences fall within the classification,” she said.
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The NHRC official, who described the number of juvenile cases recorded in the state as quite high, assured that inmates whose cases had been compiled would “have reasons to smile at the end of the exercise.”
“Decriminalisation of petty offences is expected to reduce the challenges that pre-trial detention poses on the prison system and society.
“We encourage stakeholders to effect the law, policy and practice of reforms,” she said.
Speaking during the visit, the Deputy Controller of Onitsha Prisons, Mr Jerry Mazi, advocated for alternative punishment for juveniles that committed offences rather than remanding them in prison custodies.
Mazi also called for the construction of Correctional Centres with facilities for juveniles in the South East as had been done in some parts of the country so as to keep them away from adults in prisons.
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