UNODC/South African presentation on Nelson Mandela Rules underscores need to treat prisoners with dignity
New York / Vienna, 8 October 2015 - "Prisoners are human beings, born in dignity and entitled to security and to the protection of their human rights," said the President of the General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft, yesterday, at a presentation of the revised UN Standard Minimum Rules on the Treatment of prisoners (also known as the "Nelson Mandela Rules" after the former South African President).
Mr. Lykketoft noted: "Too often, the driving principle behind prisoner treatment has been to see these individuals as entirely separate from our communities and our societies. Hidden from our gaze, and indeed sometimes before our very eyes, prisoners have suffered abuse and mistreatment."
He welcomed the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC) work with its partners, both within and outside the UN system, to help countries implement the Nelson Mandela Rules, and by doing so, improve prisoners' lives.
The President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Oh Joon, in his address, said the Nelson Mandela Rules were a significant advance in prisoner treatment and were part of the work being undertaken to help promote access to justice under Goal 16 of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development.
He called for the international community to translate these rules into a daily reality for prisoners everywhere: "ECOSOC stands ready to work together in sending a clear message that the high walls of prisons are not a bar to access to justice, and most importantly, to human rights."
In a video address, the UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov, said UNODC would build "a global alliance of Member States, international and regional organizations and civil society committed to treating prisoners in line with international minimum standards, and most importantly, their human dignity."
The Nelson Mandela Rules are a landmark update of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners first adopted in 1955 and the result of five years of negotiations among Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs), including UNODC, civil society groups and independent experts and consultants.
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