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Challenging disadvantage in Zambia – People with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities in the criminal justice system

By: Paralegal Alliance Network, Prison Reform Trust, The Ministry of Home Affairs (Zambia)

This project investigated how individuals with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities are dealt with by the criminal justice system in Zambia, and developed recommendations for improving policy and practice. The vast majority of people interviewed for this study said that people with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities face stigma and discrimination in society, generally. It is inevitable that discriminatory attitudes, including widespread assumptions that such individuals lack capacity and have little to contribute to society, pervade public services and how people with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities are dealt with by public services personnel. At least until recent years, such attitudes were reflected also in national legislation which did not afford people with disabilities the same rights as were granted to those without disabilities, and frequently contained discriminatory language and provisions. This study has shown that people with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities in contact with criminal justice services are disadvantaged and discriminated against routinely and systematically. Like all detainees, they experience the harsh and at times brutal conditions of detention, including violence and abuse from officers and other detainees. However, their disabilities may render them more vulnerable to the negative impact of such experiences. The legislative framework and lack of community services conspire to create a disproportionate and potentially discriminatory police response to people with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities, at times when they are in most need of support.

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Uploaded on: Jul 19, 2016
Year Published: 2015
Author: Phillip Sabuni
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