Improving the Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS) adherence to international standards in the treatment of prisoners through human resource development

Realizing that reforming Nigerian Prisons as well as the entire criminal justice system is an essential step in building good governance, sustainable democracy and providing adequate security to the Nigerian people, UNODC is implementing a project focused on the development of the human resource capacity within the NPS. This is because better management capacity of the prisons will create an enabling environment for the improved treatment of prisoners. The primary objective of this project is to build the capacity of the NPS to comply with the United Nations Standards and Norms for the Treatment of Prisoners and International Standards on Prison Management. This will be achieved by building leadership capacity within the prison service, providing technical assistance, logistics, training and advisory services in capacity development. The current round of activities is funded through the UK Government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Strategic Programme Fund for Human Rights and Democracy.

Project Outputs and Achievements

1. Establishment of a Prison Reform Taskforce as a core group with members drawn from Ministries of Interior, Justice, National Planning, National Human Rights Commission, Legal Aid Council, NPS and UNODC, to drive the reform process with Government and development partners. The TF is to coordinate government and other donor interventions in the prison sector. Specifically, the TF is to:

  • Mobilize development partners to address critical challenges facing prisons
  • Assist in mobilizing donor funding for improvement of NPS operations
  • Work towards future increases in government funding/allocations
  • Assist in advocacy on relevant justice sector legislative reform

The TF holds quarterly meetings and it is expected to develop two intervention modules for launching by Government in the third quarter of 2010.

2. Review of NPS Training Institutions Curriculum: One of the major activities is the review the curriculum of the training institutions to incorporate modules on international standards on the management of prisons and treatment of prisoners. This review commenced in 2009 with assessment missions to the 5 NPS training institutions and in February 2010 a work shop with training institute staff and the senior staff from NPS head quarters responsible for training.

3. Capacity Building: Training of top and senior management staff on international standards and reform strategy and some senior officers on prison leadership, management, strategic planning and standards on the treatment of prisoners. Although it is recognized that in reality, staff capacity building can assist with responding to only a part of these challenges, significant improvement to the situation of prisoners and prison staff can be achieved with targeted, adequate and high quality training such as is being planned. A training of trainers' course is also planned for Instructors from NPS training institutions based on the revised curriculum and which will be rolled out as a pilot to three selected prisons.

4. Knowledge, Aptitude and Practice (KAP) Survey: A survey is to be conducted in three prisons in Jos, Port Harcourt, and Ikoyi (Lagos). The survey is to ascertain the attitude and compliance of staff to human rights in the treatment of prisoners and identify gaps.