IOM Aids Zambia Prisons Service to Protect Rights of Migrants

By International Office of Migration (IOM)

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 28, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- IOM Zambia, with support from the IOM Development Fund, is building the capacity of the Zambia Prisons Service to protect the rights of migrants in detention.

Estimates indicate that Zambian prisons currently host more than 260 men, women and children who are detained on a broad range of immigration-related offenses.

Irregular migrants are often placed in detention alongside convicted criminals and many immigration detainees who have served the entirety of their sentence are forced to remain in detention due to limited resources for their return to countries of origin.

Beyond this abuse of their human rights, these practices contribute to congestion in Zambia's already overcrowded detention facilities.

The Zambia Prisons Service asked for IOM's help to build the capacity of its officers to implement a set of “Tools for the Protection of Vulnerable Migrants”. These tools – produced with support from IOM, UNICEF and UNHCR in 2014 – set out standards for improved identification, referral and overall management of “vulnerable migrant” cases.

IOM has now trained 22 prison officers from across Zambia who work directly with vulnerable migrants in the course of their duties. The training – aimed at creating awareness and providing practical guidance for prison officers on international and national legislative provisions related to the protection of vulnerable migrants in Zambia – took place in Lusaka this month.

“With technical and material support from IOM, the Zambia Prisons Service will be better placed to manage data on migrants in detention and to identify, assess and refer vulnerable migrants to protective services,” said Zambia Prisons Service Commissioner Percy K. Chato