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Youth in the correctional system in Maputo province

© UNICEF Mozambique/2012/A.Drivdal
The Maputo Central Prison currently has 2,189 internal inmates and 353 external prison inmates, the maximum capacity of the prison is 800 inmates.

By Erika Krajnc A. Miranda

MAPUTO, Mozambique, 06 February 2012 – In order to understand the situation of children and youth under the Mozambican prison system and to identify issues that require institutional support and improvements, the Child Protection Section of UNICEF organized a visit to the main detention centers that house minors in Maputo. Among the centers visited were the new Youth Rehabilitation Center for Minors in Boane and Machava Central Prison.

The Maputo Central Prison currently has 2,189 internal inmates and 353 external prison inmates (from other prisons), including 206 minors between 16 and 21 years. The maximum capacity of the prison is 800 inmates. Such overcrowding is mainly due to the fact that there is no district prison in Maputo and that there are huge delays in the processing of many cases, with some cases being delayed for more than five years.

The prison has a range of vocational training activities, such as carpentry, weaving, tailoring, blacksmithing, training, graphic work, English and French lessons and primary school through 10th grade. Even with the lack of materials, courses have been running, which is extremely important in order to keep the prison inmates busy and stimulating the learning that can aid them in their reintegration into society after their completed prison sentences.

© UNICEF Mozambique/2012/A.Drivdal
UNICEF staff member Carla Mendonça speaking to prison inmates.

Even with a health center inside the prison unit staffed by a physician, a health technician, a general medical officer, two psychologists and a qualified mental health technician, the proportion of inmates who are HIV positive is alarming, reaching almost 20 per cent. The lack of condoms and awareness causes problems for HIV prevention in the prison and delays the treatment of patients in an early stage of infection.

The majority of the 206 minors who are now in the Central Prison are waiting to be transfer to the Rehabilitation Center for Children in Conflict with the Law at Boane, where there are currently 105 minors, out of a maximum capacity of 200 young inmates. Of the 105 young inmates, 103 are enrolled in school (literacy, primary and secondary). The Centre, inaugurated in June 2011, has a new infrastructure, with well-preserved cells and decent beds.

However, there are still things that need improvement in order to ensure proper rehabilitation of young prisoners, such as better development of cultural, leisure, education and vocational training. Moreover, it is important to take more frequent health monitoring, especially psychosocial care of all prisoners, which is of major importance for these teenagers’ rehabilitation.  Even with some aspects in need of improvement, the prisons visited by UNICEF were in good condition.

For more information, please contact

Arild Drivdal, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email:

Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email:



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