The prison system in the Tanzanian semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar should be reformed because the jails can hardly cope with the rising number of inmates, leaders from the area said.
During a debate on the 2007/2008 budget proposals for the Ministry of Regional Administration, members of the Zanzibar parliament said the inmates were living in "inhuman" conditions. The jails, they added, were also too congested.
"Prisoners are not happy at any time as they excrete or urinate in the shared buckets, and have no recreation, including being denied to watch TV or listen to radio," the MPs said. "The world is advancing so we must also change and improve our prisons."
The Zanzibar state minister for the constitution and good governance, Ramadhani Abdallah Shaaban, admitted that the number of inmates and prisoners on remand had increased in the past year.
"By July this year, the prisons had 420 inmates and 3,163 remandees of different ages, including adolescents," he said.
"This is an increase of 33 remandees, including five women, and 29 inmates, including three women - up by 8.8 percent and 0.93 percent respectively recorded between April 2005 and March 2006," he added.
According to the minister, most inmates (324) and remandees (2,423) were between 21 and 40 years old. Most were in jail over offences such as theft, robbery, murder, rape and under-age pregnancy.