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UNODC and Directorate-General of Corrections foster partnership on prison-based work programmes in order to contribute to public safety and to prevent recidivism in Indonesia

Jakarta (Indonesia), 13 December 2017
- The Directorate-General of Corrections (DGC) of Indonesia has authority over 450 prison facilities, and is in charge of the custody of over 250,000 prisoners. Amongst the most formidable challenges which the Directorate faces are not only significant levels of prison overcrowding and staff shortages, but also its task to prepare prisoners for their social reintegration into society. While it is generally acknowledged that imprisonment alone is incapable of addressing the social reintegration needs of offenders, only a limited percentage of prisoners in Indonesia is continuously involved in constructive activities, and many fail to desist from crime upon release.

Within the framework of the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration and its component on prisoner rehabilitation, funded by the Government of Qatar, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) supports Member States in establishing a more rehabilitative approach to prison management. As the guardian of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules), UNODC has long-standing experience and expertise in providing technical assistance and advisory service in the field of penal reform.

Today, DGC and UNODC concluded a joint national workshop on enhancing prison-based work programmes in line with the Nelson Mandela Rules. The objectives of the workshop (Jakarta, 11-13 December 2017) were to create a common understanding of the minimum conditions governing prison-based work programmes as per national law and international standards; and to take stock of good practice examples in Indonesia and the region of South-East Asia, which increase prisoners' ability to earn an honest living after release. The audience included 60 participants from DGC across Indonesia, other governmental stakeholders, diplomatic representatives, civil society, UNODC, other international organizations as well as visiting experts from Qatar, Malaysia and Thailand.

During the opening remarks, attended by Mr. Haru Tamtomo, Senior Advisor to the Minister of Law and Human Rights on the Enhancement of Bureaucracy Reform, Mr. Philipp Meissner, Prison Reform Focal Point in UNODC's Headquarters in Vienna, and H.E. Mr. Ahmed bin Jassim Al-Hamar, Ambassador of Qatar to Indonesia, a common theme echoed by the speakers emphasized the importance of prison-based work programmes as a critical element to support the successful return of prisoners to society. Specifically, Mr. Meissner recalled that "[t]he core objectives of prison-based work programes should be to maintain or increase prisoners' ability to earn an honest living upon release, to improve their prospects for employment upon release, and to contribute to reducing recidivism."

Ambassador Al-Hamar warmly welcomed the workshop as a response to the call in the Doha Declaration, adopted at the 13th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in April 2015, for enhanced efforts in the field of rehabilitation and social reintegration of prisoners, and reiterated his Government's support for UNODC's corresponding Global Programme. He expressed Qatar's commitment to continue support for these initiatives.

After three days of in-depth discussions, the workshop concluded with the endorsement of an outcome document which reiterated DGC's commitment to enhance the number of prisoners enrolled in suitable work programmes, in full compliance with national law and the Nelson Mandela Rules, and in cooperation with the private sector and relevant civil society organizations. A further emphasis was placed on the need to amend the current regulatory framework governing prison-based work programmes, and to better market and brand prison products as "social products", through which the consumer contributes to the rehabilitation and social reintegration of prisoners. In this regard, participant also expressed their interest in UNODC's on-going consideration of supporting national prison brands through the initiation of a global brand of prison products.

During the closing remarks, Mr. Collie Brown, Country Director of UNODC's Programme Office in Indonesia, expressed appreciation to DGC for its partnership with UNODC and noted the "significance of prison work programmes as a core element of prison management and security." He further remarked that "without proper programming, a vacuum is left for prisoners to idle, engage in activities detrimental to prison order and security, and to remain ill-equipped for their social reintegration upon release." The Acting Director General of DGC, Mr. Ma'mun, congratulated participants for their constructive discussions, and pledged his follow-up on the recommendations that emanated from the workhop. DG a'mun reiterated that "our efforts to enhance prison-based work programmes should be considered as an important component of our overall move towards a correctional system, including increased humanity and human rights compliance in prison settings".

In support of DGC's objectives, UNODC intends to provide material support and further advisory service to DGC and other relevant stakeholders for the initiation of a pilot prison-based work programmes in selected facilities.