UNODC Eastern Africa News and Stories

You are here: Home / News

Shimo La Tewa Prison, Kenya

Nelson Mandela Rules 24, 25, 26 and 98

" Rule 24- 1. The provision of health care for prisoners is a State responsibility. Prisoners should enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community, and should have access to necessary health-care services free of charge without discrimination on the grounds of their legal status. 2. Health-care services should be organized in close relationship to the general public health administration and in a way that ensures continuity of treatment and care, including for HIV, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases, as well as for drug dependence."

" Rule 25- 1. Every prison shall have in place a health-care service tasked with evaluating, promoting, protecting and improving the physical and mental health of prisoners, paying particular attention to prisoners with special health-care needs or with health issues that hamper their rehabilitation. 2. The health-care service shall consist of an interdisciplinary team with sufficient qualified personnel acting in full clinical independence and shall encompass sufficient expertise in psychology and psychiatry. The services of a qualified dentist shall be available to every prisoner."

" Rule 26- 1. The health-care service shall prepare and maintain accurate, up-to date and confidential individual medical files on all prisoners, and all prisoners should be granted access to their files upon request. A prisoner may appoint a third party to access his or her medical file. 2. Medical files shall be transferred to the health-care service of the receiving institution upon transfer of a prisoner and shall be subject to medical confidentiality."

" Rule 98 -1. So far as possible the work provided shall be such as will maintain or increase the prisoners' ability to earn an honest living after release. 2. Vocational training in useful trades shall be provided for prisoners able to profit thereby and especially for young prisoners. 3. Within the limits compatible with proper vocational selection and with the requirements of institutional administration and discipline, prisoners shall be able to choose the type of work they wish to perform."

UNODC Global Maritime Crime Programme has been engaged with supporting Kenya's high security prison, Shimo La Tewa, in Mombasa since 2009 when Somalis suspected of committing acts of piracy were handed over to Kenyan authorities for prosecution. Initial improvements focused on upgrading water and sanitation of the prison, and constructing a secure courtroom on an adjacent piece of land to reduce security risks related to transport and long waiting periods in holding cells. It soon became clear, however, that the prison was in critical need of an in-house medical facility. With an expansive population with 1500+ detainees on any given day, trips to external clinics and hospitals were time and resource intensive and created unnecessary opportunities for escapes and security breaches involving high risk detainees.

UNODC had a positive experience supporting 'self-implemented' projects with the Kenya Prison Service. Under this implementation structure, UNODC provides materials to the prison, the prison engineering department uses the materials to make improvements to the prison, while at the same time teaching vocational training to detainees interested in learning construction skills. After identifying an unused block within the prison facility, UNODC provided materials for its refurbishment into an in-house medical facility and equipment to fit it out. The works were carried out by the Prison Engineering Team alongside detainees volunteering to assist in the refurbishment as part of vocational training.

Opened in 2013, the in-house medical facilities have added greatly to the Prison Service's ability to serve its population. A prison Doctor, who manages the clinic as well as tends to patients, is on site full-time, assisted by qualified staff. Apart from serious procedures, such as surgery, detainees can be treated at the clinic, reducing the risk of escape or incidents outside of the prison and use of resources, and allowing for a more relaxed treatment and checkup environment for the detainees who could be treated unfairly in a public setting. Within the prison, the clinic was strategically placed beside a wing dedicated to detainees with mental health needs. The proximity and ease of contact to medical staff has led to greater opportunities and results in rehabilitation among them. Each detainee has an individual file kept securely and confidentially at the clinic.

This project, carried out in strong cooperation with the Kenya Prison Service, helps to achieve the standards set in the Mandela Rules, at Rules 24, 25 and 26. It also, through its method of implementation supported Rule 98.