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Children sharing prison cells with adults in Swaziland

Children in Swaziland are still being forced to share jail cells with adult criminals.  The issue was highlighted on Friday when a High Court Judge hearing bail applications found out that children awaiting trail would share the same cells as adults at Pigg’s Peak prison. Thomas Masuku said was wrong for children to be jailed under the same roof as adults with adults “It is not right for children to be kept in custody,” he said. “Why should children be kept with adults? The Swazi Observer newspaper quoted him as saying. “This is not right. I have to repeat it over and again".

The Correctional Services said it knew about the issue. “It is true that there are two boys who are kept in Pigg’s Peak Correctional Services,” said a spokesman. “Under normal circumstances that is not supposed to be the case,” he said adding that they were running short of space.  One worry over placing children in cells with adults is that it leaves them vulnerable to being sexually abused by adult criminals. And the landlocked south African country’s 12 jails reflect its HIV/Aids infection rate which the highest in the world. “What is worrying is that children are vulnerable to being molested and abused by adult criminals, which is why they must be separated,” Save the Children’s Elizabeth Kgololo told United Nations news service, IRIN. These children are kept for long stretches of time with hardened adult criminals, she said. And although Swazi law says that child offenders should be catered for separately to adults, she said there was a ‘lack of political will’ to do that. Lack of money is often an excuse for not jailing children separately, but she said money was always found for transporting children between court and jail.

The United Nations says the rate in Swaziland of HIV, is nearly 40 per cent, the highest in the world. Swaziland neighbours South Africa, which has an estimated 5.7 million people infected with HIV, more than any other country. Nombulelo Dlamini of the country’s Central Statistical Office said a study last month shows that in 1997, the death rate was 7.6 people in 1,000. By 2007, it was 18.03 per 1,000 people. Life expectancy over the period fell from 60 to 43 years. "HIV and AIDS have killed many of our people,” she told Associated Press News service. She added that without the introduction of Aids therapy drugs, "deaths in the nation would be reaching alarming proportions.”

Hayley attribution