The government of the Republic of Namibia and the Republic of Zambia has agreed the exchange of offenders between two nations. This was officiated yesterday at Katima Mulilo border post by the minister of Home, Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security (MHAISS) Dr. Albert Kawana and his Zambian counterpart Jacob Mwiimbu.
The occasion of officiate was done as a fulfilment of the Resolutions of the 23rd Session of the Namibia/Zambia Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security (JPCDS), for the two correctional services to facilitate the process for the transfer of offenders who indicated willingness to serve their sentences in their home countries.
This is the first time in the history Namibia exchanging sentenced offenders with another country.
Speaking at the occasion Abert Kawana, the safety and security minister emphasized that the exchange is a milestone that needs to be recognized after the two countries signed an agreement on the transfer of sentenced offenders on 29 March 2012, and thereafter ratified by parliament.
Meanwhile, 15 Zambian nationals consisting of 14 males and 1 female, and 6 Namibian nationals (all males) were transferred to serve the remainder of their sentences in their countries of origin.
Kawana said seventy-nine individuals have applied for transfer to Zambia but only fifteen (15) have national documents and all the applications of those 15 offenders have been approved.
“The applications for the sixty-four inmates could not be processed because they did not produce national documents such as a Zambian identification card; a valid Zambian passport; a certificate of naturalization; or any other document that is categorized as a valid document to prove Zambian citizenship or nationality,” said Kawana.
Kawana further indicated that on 23 February 2023, there were eight Namibian nationals incarcerated in correctional facilities in Zambia. Six of them have successfully applied for transfer.
“I was informed that the other 2 Namibian nationals could not apply for transfer, because they have further charges and will only qualify to apply for transfer after the judgements in respect of the alleged offences committed have been finalized and not subject to appeal,” he revealed.
Meanwhile, Kawana said the importance of inmates to serve their sentences close to their families cannot be over-emphasized as it is critical for their rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
“Studies have consistently found that inmates who maintain close contact with their family members while incarcerated have better post-release outcomes and lower re-offending rates, he noted.
According to Kawana, the studies have also found that the state of offenders’ mental health is correlated with the extent to which they sustain contact with their family members and relatives outside.
Confidently, the minister said that the offenders that transferred to serve their sentences in their home countries can be rehabilitated, reserialized and reintegrated into the community because they will have access to their families and relatives.
Kawana urged family members who have families and relatives incarcerated in correctional facilities to make time and visit them regularly and provide them with emotional and moral support.
The minister further said that the transfer does not imply that the inmates will be free citizens in Zambia or Namibia as they will continue to serve their sentences according to the administrative measures of the administering State.