Torture and inhumane treatment in prisons was "a casualty of Africa's war on crime", international human rights expert Mumba Malila told a conference in Cape Town yesterday.
Malila is a special rapporteur on prisons for the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights.
The conference, attended by United Nations officials, representatives of the SA and other African human rights commissions and academics, was called to debate mechanisms, including the UN's Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (Opcat), to deal with abuse in prisons.
Opcat seeks to establish an international inspection system for prisons and other places of detention, including psychiatric hospitals.
Malila told the conference people in Africa felt that a prison term was preferable to alternative forms of punishment. - Sapa