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Handover of hygiene supplies to reinforce Kenya Prisons Service COVID-19 response 

Nairobi, 19 June 2020 - To support the Kenya Prisons Service (KPS) to safeguard the health of prisoners and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commissioner General of Prisons, Mr. Wycliffe Ogallo, has today received vital hygiene supplies from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), European Union and Government of the United Kingdom. 

The supplies comprised 60,000 protective gloves and 251,250 litres of hand sanitizer funded by the European Union and 660 litres of disinfectant, 100 cartons of soap and 150 litres of hand gel funded by the UK Government through the British High Commission to Kenya.

KPS is facing unique challenges during the global pandemic, given the heightened risk the virus presents to prisoners as well as staff in the confined environments of prison institutions.

The goods were handed over on behalf of the partners by the Programme Coordinator, UNODC’s Global Maritime Crime Prevention Programme, Indian Ocean, Ms. Toral Vadgama, and the Head of UNODC’s Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice pillar in Eastern Africa, Ms. Charity Kagwi-Ndungu, in a brief ceremony at KPS headquarters at which social distancing was observed.

Ms. Vadgama applauded KPS on their ongoing health, prevention and containment guidelines being implemented with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Despite UNODC not being physically present in prisons to continue the delivery of training and mentoring due to the government’s preventive measures, we continue to focus on assisting in whatever form possible to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on the stations of Shimo la Tewa Command, (Main, Women's and Borstal Institution) Kamiti Maximum and Lang'ata,” Ms. Vagdama said.

“I wish to acknowledge the generous support of the UK Government who have realigned funding to assist KPS with its COVID-19 contingency planning and we look forward to the continued cooperation between our organisations,” Ms. Vadgama said.

Providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is the latest step taken by UNODC and the EU through the Programme for Legal Empowerment and Aid Delivery in Kenya (PLEAD) to support the justice sector’s pandemic response that is being driven by the National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ). The Acting Chief Executive of NCAJ, Dr. Conrad Bosire, also attended today's handover ceremony. 

“KPS has so far released more than 12,000 people from prisons to decongest prison stations, in concurrence with measures agreed to by NCAJ members to reduce the risk of widespread transmission of the virus,” Ms. Kagwi-Ndungu said.

“We’re privileged to be able to assist KPS to maintain safe hygiene standards within its institutions, knowing that despite the restrictions placed on custodial environments to contain COVID-19, the Nelson Mandela Rules for the treatment of prisoners still apply,” Ms. Kagwi-Ndungu added.

In May 2020, the EU Ambassador to Kenya, Mr. Simon Mordue, handed over to Mr. Ogallo 18 laptops – also funded by the EU through PLEAD and procured by UNODC – for immediate use by KPS in enabling links between prison stations and presiding judges and other parties during virtual court hearings.

The donation of PPE and other equipment to justice institutions forms part of UNODC’s comprehensive efforts in various countries to support national stakeholders to stem the progression of transmission, namely in the correctional, law enforcement, justice and health sectors. 

Today’s handover came one month ahead of Nelson Mandela International Day on 18 July which this year will draw attention to the heightened relevance of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners – or Nelson Mandela Rules – during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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