UNODC Supports the Government of Kyrgyz Republic in Enhancing Prison Security

The State Prison Service of the Kyrgyz Republic in partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) opened a new entrance facility in prison #16, in the village of Belovodsk 40 km from the capital, Bishkek.

"During the past two years, UNODC and the Government of Japan have rendered support in enhancing prison security, which helps to strengthen trust in the justice system in the Kyrgyz Republic", said Mr. Taalaibek Zhaparov, Chair of the State Prison Service.

Prison #16 was first built in 1974 and currently accommodates approximately 905 offenders, 50 out of whom are serving a life sentence. A newly established wing for violent extremist prisoners in the prison is under construction.

It is in this context that the Government of Japan provided financial contribution to UNODC to provide technical assistance to the Prison Service of Kyrgyzstan to address radicalization to violence and violent extremism in prison settings.

"In order to ensure global security, the fight against extremism is important both in Kyrgyzstan and in the region as a whole. The State Prison Service of the Kyrgyz Republic and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime play an important role in this", noted the Ambassador of Japan to Kyrgyzstan, H.E. Yoshihiro Yamamura. "From the point of view of ensuring security of the country and its people, the social reintegration of prisoners after release from prison is a relevant issue not only in the Kyrgyz Republic, but also in many other countries."

Since April 2017, UNODC and the Government of Japan have supported efforts to improve prison conditions in various prison facilities of Kyrgyzstan. In addition to the improvement of sanitary conditions and the implementation of vocational training and income generation programs, the Japanese-funded project paid particular attention to measures enhancing prison security.

Cell blocks holding violent extremist prisoners in colony #27 and colony #47, were equipped with an innovative video surveillance and intercom system. This system not only allows for better monitoring of prisoners by prison staff, but also enables prisoners to easily contact and ask for support from prison staff directly from their cells. In line with this approach, UNODC procured sports equipment for the prisoners providing the possibility to play table tennis during their daily time out of their cells. Office space for psychologists and social workers has been improved.

"Another innovative aspect of our joint work with the Prison Service involves the introduction of new software for electronic registration of visits, packages and parcels", said Koen Marquering, i.a. Head of the UNODC Programme Office in the Kyrgyz Republic. "The idea behind this initiative is to move from an outdated paper-based to a more efficient electronic format for the registration of documents and other items with the support of a new computer, printer and passport scanner. This is expected to improve the level of control of what enters the prison and reduce waiting times for family and other visitors who come to see their loved ones or bring food and other essential items to the prisoners". 

As a custodian of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (i.e. the Nelson Mandela Rules), UNODC provides technical assistance to the Kyrgyz Republic in the field of penal reform. UNODC also assists national authorities to implement the 2017-2022 State Program to Counter Extremism and Terrorism.

Well-managed prisons and the treatment of prisoners consistent with international standards and norms for crime prevention and criminal justice is a precondition for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 16 aimed at promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, ensuring access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

UNODC supports the State Penitentiary Service of the Kyrgyz Republic as a part of the Programme for Central Asia 2015-2019.

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