Zimbabwe's Prisons Are 'Hell on Earth'

With no food, medicine, dozens die daily in death camp conditions
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2009 10:51 AM CDT
Armed police officers stand guard outside Mutare remand Prison about 300 kilometres east of Harare, Zimbabwe, Wednesday, March, 4, 2009.   (AP Photo / Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
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(Newser) – In Zimbabwe even a short prison term can quickly turn into a death sentence: Conditions are so unsanitary and food so scarce that dozens die daily, as revealed in a secretly shot documentary. Using smuggled cameras, the film shows rotting bodies and mass graves—and that's just in a single prison, the Times of London reports. Zimbabwe has room for 17,000 inmates in 55 locations, but incarcerates twice that number.

"That place, I haven't got the words. I can describe it as hell on earth—though they say it's more than hell," says a former prisoner. Though life isn't easy for most Zimbabweans on the outside, they may at least have access to international aid or be able to scavenge. For prisoners who don't have anyone bringing them food, the overwhelming likelihood is that they will starve to death—if cholera outbreaks or a raging HIV/AIDS epidemic don't strike them down first.