International Conference "Penal enforcement system: present situation and future perspectives"

(posted 18/02/2009)

 

On the 10 th of February 2009 an international conference on the occasion of the 90 th anniversary of the Prison Department at the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania "Penal enforcement system: present situation and future perspectives" took place in Vilnius, Lithuania. The event was attended by more than 100 well-known penal enforcement system specialists from Lithuania and other countries.

The conference was organized by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Project Office for the Baltic States together with the Prison Department at the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania.

The conference was opened by the Minister of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania Remigijus Šimašius, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Republic of Lithuania Annemieke Ruigrok and the Head of UNODC Project Office for the Baltic States Signe Rotberga. Also, congratulations for the participants were forwarded from the Chairman of the Parliament  Committee on Legal Affairs Stasys Šedbaras.

Saulius Vitkūnas, Director General of the Prison Department presented the history, recent achievements and challenges of penal system of Lithuania in 1919 - 2009. Experts from Germany, Norway and Switzerland highlighted the main problems of health care in prisons and analyzed results of studies on reduction of drug related crime in prisons as well as characteristics of prison populations in different regions of Europe.

Active debates took place in the panel discussion "Modern attitudes and response to HIV and drugs in prison" where problems related to drug use and response to HIV in prisons were presented by the experts from Germany, Romania, Sweden, Norway and Latvia. The participants discussed the goals and implementation of methadone maintenance therapy, cooperation between prison and community services, as well as involvement of NGO's. Catalina Iliuta from UNODC office in Romania shared experience in introducing needle and syringe programmes and methadone maintenance therapy in the prisons of Romania. Olga Zeile from the Latvian Ministry of Justice informed about the new national HIV programme where high priority is given to evidence-informed HIV prevention in prisons. Ursula Scheben-Winkelhog from Germany and Anders Nystedt from Sweden focused on methadone maintenance therapy and treatment of infectious diseases in prisons. Participants from Lithuania shared their views about the obstacles for introduction of methadone maintenance therapy in the prisons of their country.

Head of UNODC office for the Baltic States Signe Rotberga reminded that prisoners are part of the community, and whatever is done - or not done - to protect prisoners and staff from contracting infections will ultimately have an effect on the health outside prison. There is strong evidence on what can be done to reduce the risks of HIV transmission in prisons, and it is the responsibility of each country to meet recognized international prison, health and human rights standards.

 

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