For at least three years, at the global level, crime prevention and criminal justice have been guided in their work by the Doha Declaration, a series of international principles adopted by UN Member States following the 13th Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, held precisely in Doha, the capital of Qatar (Asia), in April 2015. In order to implement the Doha Declaration, and with the economic support of the State of Qatar, UNODC launched a Global Programme to help States progress in crime prevention, improvement of criminal justice, measures against corruption and strengthening the rule of law. In this period, Marco Teixeira, head of the Global Programme, and Muriel Jourdan, Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer (at UNODC in Vienna) who works in rehabilitation, came to the country, making from a Bolivian initiative a model experience at the international level.
The assurance of dignity during imprisonment is mandatory, but may not be sufficient to avoid reoffending and another incarceration if, upon release, ex-convicts find themselves in the same circumstances that potentially contributed to their illegal activities in the first place. It is crucial to think ahead and to prepare prisoners for their reintegration into society.
UNODC's espousal of this psychology has taken it to prison facilities around the world, supporting Member States with a tried and tested method: strengthening prisoners' resolve by teaching them vocational skills which they can practice in work schemes during their sentence, and which can help them find work upon their release, contributes significantly to their dignity and self-reliance, their sense of belonging, and the diminished likelihood of their recidivism.
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.
Prisoner rehabilitation is both key to protecting society from crime as well as helping prisoners be better prepared for their release. Towards this, training and reintegration initiatives, coupled with post-release support, are essential towards reducing recidivism.
Working to this end, UNODC and the Government of Singapore recently conducted a joint regional training workshop on correctional rehabilitation, bringing together some 63 officials from 16 Asian and Pacific Island countries who are integral in their areas for prisoner rehabilitation activities.
Fighting drugs and crime takes place at many levels, and switching from a punitive to a more rehabilitative approach has become a growing trend among prison administrations.
As the guardian of the Nelson Mandela Rules, UNODC puts great focus on the conditions of prisoners, and on contributing solutions to facilitate their smooth reinsertion into society. This important vocation is also one of the four components of the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, and one where UNODC, in partnership with Member States, is always trying to cover new ground, with the generous support of the State of Qatar.