‘We pride in our prisons’ reintegration thrust’ — says Home Affairs official as Zimbabwe escalates crime prevention, justice delivery

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By Tinei Tuhwe

Home Affairs Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Raphael Faranisi has announced that several laws have been reviewed and new policies put in place in order to enhance crime prevention and justice delivery in Zimbabwe.

He was speaking at the just-ended 33rd session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice held in Vienna, Austria between May 13 and 17, 2024.

Faranisi emphasised that the new Prisons and Correctional Services Act, which became effective in August 2023, focuses more on reintegrating inmates into society rather than simply incarcerating them.

He claimed that the law places a greater emphasis on helping inmates rehabilitate and successfully rejoin their communities after serving their sentences, rather than just punishing them through imprisonment.

He added that the goal is to provide support and resources to help former inmates become productive members of society, reducing the likelihood of them re-offending.

This shift in focus reflects a more holistic approach to criminal justice and aims to contribute to a safer and more inclusive society.

“Through this Act, prisons are now more of a correctional and rehabilitation service to inmates rather than a place of punishment.

“This measure has gone a long way in reducing crime rates through preventing re-offending,” the top bureaucrat said.

He further added that the government has recognised the need to address challenges posed by technology and digital media in the context of crime prevention and justice delivery, with emergence of new forms of criminal activity and the use of digital platforms for illegal purposes have necessitated a review of the national legislative framework.

“In March 2022, Zimbabwe enacted the Cyber and Data Protection Act to deal with challenges arising from the digital revolution, especially the rise in cybercrime.”

Furthermore, Faranisi highlighted that by addressing gaps and loopholes in the legal system, the government is striving to ensure that laws remain up-to-date and capable of effectively addressing contemporary crime and justice challenges.

This approach demonstrates the government’s dedication to keeping pace with technological advancements and modifying the legal framework to effectively tackle new threats in the digital era.

He also said there is still a significant amount of work that needs to be done to keep up with new developments, especially considering how rapidly the digital economy is evolving and the corresponding emergence of new types of crimes stemming from it.

This highlights the ongoing challenge of staying ahead of criminals who constantly adapt their tactics to take advantage of technological advancements.

In addition to cyber and data protection Act Faranisi said that a fully-fledged forensics and cyber laboratory was established to improve and speed up evidence processing.

“The Cyber Laboratory established a monitoring centre for open-source intelligence, malware analysis, big data analytics, artificial intelligence and facial recognition, while the Forensics Department has enhanced the timeous availability of scientific evidence needed for efficient justice delivery.

“This has gone a long way in necessitating the clearance of backlogs in some sections, such as those dealing with the illicit drug problem.”

“The country is committed to playing a role in combating terrorism both domestically and internationally. Zimbabwe is also aware of the challenges posed by illicit drugs and their links to various forms of organized crime, such as trafficking in persons, firearms, cybercrime, money laundering, and terrorism financing,” he added.

In addressing the issue of crime prevention and justice delivery Zimbabwe emphasises the importance of fighting corruption and promoting good governance.

“The country pledges to thoroughly investigate acts of corruption and hold those responsible accountable.

“We therefore stress on the need to continue fighting corruption, promoting good governance, transparency and accountability, and we will, on our part, ensure that acts of corruption are fully, independently and impartially investigated, with those responsible being brought to justice.” he said

He underscored that Zimbabwe emphasises the importance of working together on a global scale to combat transnational organised crime, indicating that there is need for increased cooperation and coordination among countries to prevent crime, improve the effectiveness of criminal justice systems, and uphold the principles of the rule of law.

Zimbabwe advocates for inclusive efforts that involve all stakeholders and ensure that no one is left behind in the fight against organised crime, he said.