By Dr. Masimba Mavaza | The recent outcry over Job Sikhala’s appearance in the hospital in shackles prompts a closer look at the global standard practices regarding the chaining of prisoners, a procedure not unique to Zimbabwe. Despite the uproar, it’s essential to recognize the underlying reasons for such measures.
Prisoners are chained to prevent potential escape or harm, a practice not exclusive to Zimbabwe but observed worldwide. The rationale is to ensure the safety of the public, police, and the state, particularly for individuals deemed high-risk or with a history of violence. This protocol applies across various courts, emphasizing the need for security without compromising justice.
In the case of hospitalized prisoners, shackling is a precautionary measure to prevent escapes or harm to medical staff and others. The use of video links is also maximized to minimize escape opportunities. While acknowledging the importance of prisoner safety, it’s crucial to consider the potential risks to innocent people if security measures are not enforced.
Zimbabwe’s legal system, despite criticism of its human rights record, maintains a clear understanding of responsibilities and accountability. The Ministry of Justice and other government arms prioritize public protection, efficient justice delivery, and maintaining public confidence in the criminal justice system.
Contrary to the outcry, chaining prisoners in hospitals is a global practice. Drawing attention to Job Sikhala’s case is deemed hypocritical when similar practices exist in countries like the United Kingdom, where even pregnant prisoners are chained. Such incidents often go unnoticed, raising questions about the fairness of the criticism against Zimbabwe.
It’s essential to acknowledge the challenges faced by healthcare professionals when dealing with incarcerated patients. The lack of overarching policies for shackling non-pregnant patients leaves clinicians with limited options, often leading to the continued use of restraints. However, it’s crucial to balance security needs with respect for patients’ rights and dignity.
While shackling may infringe on patients’ rights, it is primarily a security measure and not a form of punishment. The legal context and patient rights must be considered to strike a balance between security concerns and respecting the dignity of incarcerated individuals.
In Job Sikhala’s case, the decision to shackle him in the hospital is justified by the perceived security risk he poses. The overarching goal is to ensure the safe and secure management of court proceedings, considering the potential harm to the public and the risk of escape.
In conclusion, the outcry against Job Sikhala’s shackling in the hospital is criticized as hypocritical, given the global prevalence of such practices. Understanding the reasons behind these security measures is crucial to foster a more informed and fair discourse on the subject.
For further inquiries, please contact Dr. Masimba Mavaza at [email protected].