UNODC Continues to Support Measures to Improve Prison Conditions and Implement Social Rehabilitation Programs for Prisoners in the Kyrgyz Republic

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the State Prison Service under the Ministry of Justice of the Kyrgyz Republic recently held an opening ceremony for a new prison production facility and exercise space for prisoners.


The Deputy Minister of Justice, Chairman of the State Prison Service, Head of the UNODC Program Office in the Kyrgyz Republic, Manager of UNODC’s Criminal Justice Program in Central Asia, and media attended the event in a prison wing for violent extremist prisoners at Prison No. 27 in the village of Moldovanovka, 30 kilometres from the city of Bishkek.

“Initiatives of this kind support prison reform by introducing new approaches to prison management and streamlining international standards in our penitentiary policy,” said Mr. Kynatbek Smanaliev, Deputy Minister of Justice.

As the custodian of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Nelson Mandela Rules), UNODC has been providing comprehensive support to the Kyrgyz Republic since 2009.

“UNODC works in close cooperation with government authorities and the Prison Service to improve prison management in accordance with the Nelson Mandela Rules and other international standards,” said Mr. Andrey Seleznev, Head of the UNODC Program Office in the Kyrgyz Republic. "Our support includes legal advice, capacity development for prison staff, and technical assistance, for example by piloting prison-based rehabilitation programs, such as the one launched today."

Within the framework of its current programs, UNODC supports measures to strengthen the management of violent extremist prisoners and prevent radicalisation to violence in prisons.  This includes the introduction of new tools for overall prison management that can be tailored to work with high-risk prisoners, such as those convicted for terrorism related crimes.

“We are promoting comprehensive approaches to prison security management based on security audits that take into consideration not only infrastructural and procedural aspects, but also focus on what we call dynamic security, which means that prison staff should develop and sustain professional and constructive relationships with prisoners”, said Mr. Koen Marquering, Manager of UNODC’s Criminal Justice Program in Central Asia.

“UNODC has also supported the Prison Service to introduce a new tool for prisoner risk and needs assessment, which can help to better classify prisoners and adopt an approach to social rehabilitation that is tailored to the needs of each individual prisoner”, Marquering added.

Technical assistance provided by UNODC during the past years includes establishment of new entrance facilities, procurement of x-ray equipment, innovative video surveillance and intercom systems, and software for electronic registration of visits, packages, and parcels. UNODC also supports the rehabilitation of prisoners through refurbishment of rooms for family visits, bath and laundry facilities, office space for psychologists and social workers, library services and launch of vocational training and prisoner employment programs.

During his welcoming speech, the Chairman of the State Prison Service, Major General Askat Egemberdiev, emphasised the importance of such rehabilitation work: “I believe that the efforts undertaken together with UNODC will play a vital role in making a positive change in offenders’ lives and enable them to develop skills, which will ultimately help them find their place in society.”


Around 15 out of 95 prisoners convicted for terrorism and extremism related offenses will be engaged through the new facility in Prison Nr. 27. They will undergo a month-long training in leather and felt craft and continue to work in the workshop. The State Enterprise "Kelechek" will coordinate the production process and salaries will be transferred to deposit bank cards for use by the prisoners upon release.

During the opening ceremony, the Chair of the State Prison Service conveyed a letter of gratitude to UNODC for its contribution to prison reform in the Kyrgyz Republic. UNODC and the State Prison Service will continue their cooperation. During the upcoming period, opening of a new facility for vocational training and employment of prisoners is planned in an open-type prison.

UNODC supports prison reform and efforts to strengthen the management of violent extremist prisoners and detention of returned foreign terrorist fighters with support from the UN Peacebuilding Fund and the Government of the United States.

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