UNODC Eastern Africa News and Stories

You are here: Home / News

Revamping the Role of Prison Guards in Ethiopia 

It may be difficult for some to conceive of a prison system that does not center almost exclusively around security measures. Yet keeping inmates in custody is only one of the purposes of imprisonment. Equally pivotal aims are the humane treatment and rehabilitation of inmates to prevent future crimes.

In Ethiopia, an assessment by UNODC and the Federal Prison Administration has found that there is a compelling need to update the training of prison guards so that they fill security and rehabilitative roles alike. To meet that need, UNODC has revamped the training curricula for new and existing staff, in addition to drafting training modules for new recruits.

In this connection, a five-day workshop to go through and validate the training modules unfolded from 7 to 11 December in Debre Zeyt, near Addis Ababa. Up to 35 participants from the Prison Administration took part in the training, providing feedback and suggesting ways to adjust the materials to the Ethiopian context.

One of the participants, Mulatu Chanyalew, director of Ethiopia's prison training centre, regarded the courses developed by UNODC as "a very important tool to train new staff and upgrade the centre's level." He looked forward to the Prison Administration's speedy adoption of the curricula in order for the Centre to incorporate them into its programme.

According to Asayehegne Bogale, Change Management Coordinator at the Addis Ababa Prison Sector, so far, "trainings have been more focused on security- oriented field training than on class training targeted to crime prevention." So he welcomed the new curricula as "it will help prison officers become aware that prison should not be only a place to lock up and control inmates, but also a correctional centre where they can learn skills and be rehabilitated."

Tibeso Bezabih, a lawyer and a trainer himself with the Prison Administration, highlighted that the workshop was "very informative" - "We have noticed there is a gap between where we are and where we are going. We are going towards a new and improved curriculum that will be a model to teach new prison guards, in which guards will have more responsibility in escorting inmates ethically and in contributing to their rehabilitation."

After all, he concluded, "a country's quality is measured by the way it treats its prisoners."

The new courses, which are due to be endorsed by the Federal Prison Administration in 2016, have been developed with the support of the Governments of Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands.