In an effort and commitment to ensure and deepen regional integration which amongst others is anchored on the maintenance of law and order, the SADC Secretariat convened the meeting of the Corrections/ Prisons Sub Committee in Gaborone, Botswana at Travel Lodge last week.
The Corrections/ Prisons Sub Committee is a statutory body aimed at facilitating co-operation between SADC Member States on issues related to Prison/ Correctional and Penitentiary Services.
Amongst other functions, the Committee oversees common regional approaches to harmonising and transforming Corrections and Prison Services and move them beyond being custodial entities to focus more on Rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders into mainstream society.
The Executive Secretary of SADC, Her Excellency Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, informed the meeting that law and order are very crucial for the SADC Region’s sustainable socio-economic development both at the national and regional levels which makes it critical for SADC to prioritise Prisons and Correctional services as prescribed in the SADC Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation (SIPO) III. Dr. Tax encouraged the Committee to lead the region in the implementation of the SADC Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation which establishes the objectives of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation namely; promotion of peace and security across Southern Africa; protection of the region’s people from instability due to the breakdown of law and order; development of a common foreign policy throughout the region; as well as enhancing cooperation on matters related to security and defence.
For his part the Commissioner General of Zambia Correctional Service and the Chairperson of the Corrections/ Prisons Sub Committee, Dr Chisela Chileshe paid homage to the Republic of Botswana for its warm welcome.
He outlined the objectives of the meeting and affirmed that the Committee was poised to engage on fruitful deliberations on common regional approaches towards harmonising and transforming corrections and prison services in order to advance components of the SADC peace and security agenda.
He urged Committee Members to work as a unit in the consolidation of Peace Support Operations in order to contribute to peace-building efforts for the benefit of the SADC citizens.
The Committee noted progress made on the following; Finalisation of the Revised Draft Protocol on Inter-State Transfer of Foreign Prisoners; the Proposal for a Common Regional Corrections and Prison Services Integrated Management System; and the development of the SADC Corrections/ Prisons Training Manual.