22 May 2019 - As the guardian of the Nelson Mandela Rules (the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners), UNODC actively promotes rehabilitation and reintegration programmes, supporting Member States in their efforts to reform their penitentiaries. An important factor in the promotion of a culture of lawfulness, Prisoner Rehabilitation is one of the four components of the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, working around the world on an array of projects which prepare prisoners for life after incarceration.
While the rehabilitation projects greatly vary in nature, they are always conceived in collaboration with the national penitentiary authorities and with consideration to the local contexts; recent projects have thus included training prisoners on everything from traditional arts and crafts to construction work. In the State of Palestine, the Global Programme has launched an advanced Technical, Vocation and Educational Training (TVET) programme, which will teach and certify male prisoners on electrical installations in Jericho.
To highlight and discuss this important work and the possibility of replicating such initiatives across the state, the Global Programme has held a special side event during the 28 th Commission for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, taking place this week in Vienna.
Introducing the panel, Ambassador Salahaldin Abdalshafi, Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine, reflected on the nature and the purpose of any prison sentence: "True justice cannot be confined to punishment. Rather, it extends to rehabilitating offenders, reducing further risks of crime, and building a peaceful and more inclusive society."
Major-General Dr. Abdullah Al-Mal, Advisor to the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of the State of Qatar, which supports and finances the Global Programme, commented on the importance of this factor in the greater context of justice: "We need to bear in mind that prisons are often the most easily forgotten part of the criminal justice system. Resource constraints are even more strongly pronounced than in other parts of the criminal justice systems, leading to additional challenges such as severe overcrowding, staff shortages, insufficient health and safety - all hampering the ability of prison administrations to sustain and continuously improve the educational, vocational training and work programmes set up with the support of the Global Programme."
There is an increased involvement in some areas, said Ms. Cristina Albertin, UNODC Regional Representative for the MENA region, noting that "UNODC has scaled up efforts to assist MENA countries in addressing prison challenges and providing technical assistance across the region". She also welcomed the project in Jericho: "I congratulate the State of Palestine for its initiative and commitment to the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners. Prisoners are part of the society; caring about their rehabilitation and reintegration is a reflection of Palestine's deep sense of responsibility towards the 2030 agenda, leaving no one behind."
The assistance provided by the global community in this area was valued by Colonel Sufyan Amreya, Director of Projects and Studies, Department of Rehabilitation Centers in the State of Palestine: "Among the international community, UNODC has always been a reliable partner. Our collaboration dates back several years, and we highly appreciate the support received in the past and continue to receive now."
The ongoing project in Jericho was designed jointly with the prison administration and tailored to local needs. As Alejandro Matta, Programme Management Officer in the Global Programme, elaborated, "this programme has been carefully developed, keeping in mind the importance of its sustainability, to achieve the rehabilitation of prisoners and their successful reintegration into society."