30 November 2018 - For decades, UNODC has provided technical assistance and advisory services to Member States on crime prevention and criminal justice in numerous sectors. One key area has been its work on prisoner rehabilitation programmes, encouraging the fair and humane treatment of prisoners, and helping prepare them to reintegrate society after having served their prison sentences. With the United Nations General Assembly's adoption in 2015 of the Nelson Mandela Rules, of which UNDOC is the guardian, penal reform programmes have been increasingly set up to strengthen prison management and improve prison conditions, and to facilitate the social integration of prisoners upon release.
These programmes have been proven to prevent recidivism, contributing to a safer and more resilient society in many parts of the world, and they are being requested by a growing number of Member States. In Kyrgyzstan, where only 1,600 prisoners (out of 10,000 nationwide) are currently involved in constructive activities, a new programme has been developed by UNODC's Prisoner Rehabilitation initiative, a component of the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, in collaboration with the State Prison Service of the Kyrgyz Republic and the Agency of Vocational Training under the Ministry of Education.
The programme, "Action Plan on Cooperation," foresees vocational training for prisoners and the launch of a bakery, as well as shoe-making and sewing production facilities in both female and male prisons. Implementation has already begun with the delivery of necessary equipment and IT devices to be used in Novopokrovka's male prison, on the outskirts of the capital Bishkek.
Koen Marquering, Head of the UNODC Programme Office in the Kyrgyz Republic, stressed the importance of these vocational programmes during the symbolic equipment handover ceremony: "Imprisonment, in itself, is incapable of addressing offenders' social integration issues. Rather, the time of imprisonment should be used to ensure - as much as possible - that prisoners are both willing and able to lead law-abiding lives upon release."
Up to 100 prisoners are expected to participate in this programme, giving them an opportunity to gain work experience at the prison facilities, and to obtain a certified specialization as bakers, tailors or shoemakers which they can use upon release. This Action Plan on Cooperation between the Prison Service and UNODC, signed in November 2017 with generous financial support from the State of Qatar, allocates some 8 million Kyrgyzstani Som (approximately $115,000) for renovation works and for the procurement of equipment, with the aim to establish three income-generating prison facilities.
Ambassador Abdulla Al-Sulaiti, ambassador of the State of Qatar to Kyrgyzstan, took this opportunity to reflect on the reach of the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration: "The State of Qatar and UNODC are implementing a global initiative to promote judicial integrity, youth crime prevention, education for justice and social rehabilitation of offenders. Over 80 countries around the world, including Kyrgyzstan, benefit from this program aimed at implementing the 2015 Doha Declaration."
UNODC's Roadmap for the Development of Prison-Based Rehabilitation Programmes provides detailed expertise and advice for Member States wishing to undertake penal reform. For more information, please visit: www.unodc.org/prisoner-rehabilitation.