Food Rights

24 Sep 2009

The Mozambique government has launched a scheme for prisoners to grow their own food at the Tinonganine Prison farm, a 100-hectare plot outside Mozambique’s capital, Maputo. The project is starting with prisons around the capital and a neighboring province, and it is hoped that it will be the beginning of positive action to address the many problems in the country’s jails.

Mozambique’s prisons hold more than 15,000 inmates and have been widely criticized by human rights organizations for their overcrowded cells and poor sanitation. ‘Our budget doesn’t support the feeding of these persons in a good manner,’ said Justice Minister Benvinda Levy. ‘Many of them stay in prison for long periods, just sitting – they don’t do anything, but this is not their fault, it is our fault.’

‘The idea to farm the land is a good one, because when you think of it, it’s better for a prisoner to be out on the land producing food than sitting in a cell all day,’ said Daniel Muchate, who is serving a three-year sentence for burglary. ‘It’s a really great opportunity for us. We feel privileged.’

The vegetables cultivated in the farm also mean inmates can have a more balanced diet, adding variety and nutrition to their standard meals of beans, rice or porridge. Some of the vegetables grown are also sold locally and the money raised is put towards transport and hospital expenses for the prisoners.

‘When you are sentenced you just lose your liberty, but you don’t lose other rights. You have the right to be fed and you have the right to work’, Ms Levy insisted. ‘So this project reminds us that the prisoners are still human beings and they’re still with all their rights.’

Source: BBC News

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