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Zimbabwean Prisons; Human Rights Tragedy

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Zimbabwean Prisons; Human Rights Tragedy

Committing a crime or breaking the law and getting caught always has some sort of punishment, but in Zimbabwe, it is a matter of life and death. Rules and laws around the world range from simple, stupid things to more ridiculous, extreme things. When breaking the rules or laws, depending on where a person is or who that person is with can make a huge difference on the punishment of that crime. In Zimbabwe, crimes can be as minimal as stealing the smallest piece of candy, as an adult, and being put in prison for at least a couple of years. The sad part about spending even a couple years in prison for something so small, in Zimbabwe, is that there is no hope to even survive those years to be released, due to the conditions.

Not many people are familiar with the circumstances and/or conditions of the prisons in Zimbabwe. The prisoners there are compared to the Jews who were a part of the Holocaust. Roy Bennett, an official in the Movement for Democratic Change, spent time in one of the prisons and spoke of "genocide" and "human rights tragedy" in the local prisons of Zimbabwe. He also compared the prisoners to "walking skeletons" (Mpofu). Most times the prisoners spend their days barely dressed because the government lacks the money for even clothing. Mr. Bennett also said that it is very easy to compare these "walking skeletons" or "human rights tragedy" to the pictures he has seen of the Holocaust. For most people, that would paint a pretty sad picture in their heads, but for others, it is not.

The country's 55 prisons are only supposed to be containing a maximum of 17,000 inmates, as of now, they are containing over 35,000 inmates. These inmates are overcrowded and underfed. A lot of officials are considering the prisons in Zimbabwe to be a lot like the Holocaust, a genocide. The only difference between the prisons and the Holocaust is that these inmates are not being tortured by the guards or those in charge. The prisoners are dying due to the lack of necessities needed in order to survive. Zimbabwe's prisons are in horrible conditions and the only way to help is to either make changes in government, open the country up for help, or, the best way, Robert Mugabe needs to leave office.

The main reason for the deaths in the prisons is based on the country's lack of supplying the necessary needs to survive. Zimbabwe has been struggling to import electricity, food, clothing, medicines, fuel, and paying the servant's salaries (Mpofu). The prisoners are almost forgotten because the government is trying so hard to try to maintain what they are currently getting to keep the prisons afloat. The amount of disease and physical fighting plays a large role in the death toll. The overcrowding and underfunding of the prisons causes the conditions to be very unhygienic and pretty much unbearable.

Due to the lack of cleanliness in the Zimbabwean prisons, prisoners are dying daily in large numbers. Disease is the number one cause of death. Common diseases continuously affecting the inmates include diarrhea, cholera, malaria, TB, and HIV/AIDS. An outbreak of cholera has killed a little more than 4,000 inmates since August 2008, and since then has sickened 90,000 (Mpofu). Because of the horrible conditions in the prisons, prisoners who are serving even short terms generally consider their time behind bars to be a death sentence because some die there or contract diseases that kill them soon after their release (Alexander). Zimbabwe's government cannot help because it can barely afford to import the necessities in the first place.

The supply of food in the Zimbabwean prisons is the second most popular cause of death. The little food that the prisoners are given goes straight to their mouths. There is no taking chance that someone else might come and snag the food and there is no point in trying to save it. Those prisoners who even have enough energy or strength to eat can barely bring the food to their mouths themselves. A lot of the prisoners do not even have enough strength to stand up on their own because of the lack of food (Associated Press). They are currently being served a piece of sadza (a stiff corn dumpling), the size of a person's hand, and water with salt in it. By not supplying each and every prisoner with proper food, such as bread,



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