By Moshi Shabani
Tanzania’s Minister of Health Community Development, Gender Elderly and Children Ummy Mwalimu said the government is planning to establish more juvenile retention centers across the country so as to rescue children from being held in adult prisons.
Mwalimu said this at the handing over ceremony of borehole worthy 11.7m/- as an aid from Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dar es Salaam Polycarp Cardinal Pengo to Upanga Juvenile correctional center in Dar es Salaam.
She said there are only five juvenile institutions in Tanzania, in regions of Tanga, Mbeya, Kilimanjaro, Arusha and Dar es Salaam which are not enough due to the numbers of the children who need temporally and secured facilities to stay while awaiting to go to court or until a placement can be arranged.
“The government’s process to build other more retention homes for children is underway, a move intends to shun mixing children with adults in the same prison which is not right,” she said.
She congratulated Polycarp Pengo for the aid, said it will help the children as well as reduce the burden to the institution which previously were paying 400,000/- for water bill equivalent to 4,800,000m/- per annual.
According to her, the money which was paying for water bills, will be channeled to other use including to paying health insurance to children within the institution through ‘Toto Afya Kadi’.
However, she called upon parents to ensure they shape behavior of their children especially at the age of adolescence to avoid the children ending up in juvenile retention homes.
For his party, Polycard Pengo said: “Our responsibility is to think about the public, we have been giving back to the society each year.”
Cardinal Pengo insisted love among people, wanted people to live by loving one-another without any discrimination according to the age and religion.
The findings of a report on inspection of children in detention facilities conducted by the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRGG) in Tanzania paints a different picture and raises serious questions over Tanzania's commitment in protecting the rights of children.
As figures emerging from visits to detention facilities from 2008 to 2010 indicate a significant increase in the number of children being held in detention facilities, authorities say urgent measures must be taken to ensure respect for dignity of children.
"These children are often held in adult prisons and the conditions in detention and the treatment they received fell far short of international human rights standards. Children were not receiving adequate access to reintegration and rehabilitation activities and services," reads part of the report released on 2011.