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Launch of 'Probation: A New Beginning' Art Competition

Remarks by Dr. Amado Philip de Andrés, UNODC Regional Representative

Nairobi, 20 August 2020

Senior Deputy Secretary Mrs Too [State Department for Correctional Services],

Mr Perr [European Union],

Mrs Mbau and Probation staff,


Boys and girls,

Good morning. It’s a great pleasure to be here representing the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. 

I thoroughly enjoyed your presentations from around the country. Thank you very much for the thought and care that has gone into your contributions. This event is just the beginning and you’ve inspired me already. 

It’s a wonderful privilege for UNODC to be a partner in this creative initiative. We started discussing the possibility of an art competition with the Probation and After Care Service – PACS – and the European Union last year, long before anyone had heard of coronavirus. 

Probation has been part of this country’s formal justice system for more than 70 years. PACS is carrying out an ever more important role in the justice chain, yet the concept of probation, the work of probation officers and the experiences of people who are put on probation are not widely known. 

Together, we had the seed of an idea. How could young people who are on probation have their voices heard so that more people in the community understand what they’re going through in the criminal justice system and what it means to be on probation? 

That seed has sprouted into the art competition that’s being launched today. 

Boys and girls, this competition is for you. 

It’s our hope this will empower you and provide a creative outlet at a time when your studies or vocational training have been interrupted because of the COVID-19 pandemic; and, ultimately, when so many people’s lives have been turned upside down.  

You’re the reason we’re gathered here, and I’d like to state three points very clearly.

One. You don’t have to be a good artist to enter this competition – What matters is taking the time to express your feelings on paper based on one of the four sub-themes: change, lessons learnt, vision of the future and COVID-19.

Two. Please view this as a meaningful opportunity to realize your potential – This competition is called ‘Probation: A New Beginning’ for good reason. You’re encouraged to take full advantage of it.

Three. Most of all, enjoy this experience – Have fun creating something from nothing; from a blank sheet of paper.

The closing date is September 30th. You can enter two pieces of art. 

Everyone who enters will receive a certificate of participation. There will be a first, second and third prize awarded in each age category. The judging panel will look at each painting, drawing and collage, and also read your written description that explains what is in your picture. 

Then, a selection of your artworks will go on display to the public in an exhibition. That’s how your messages will be shared with a wide audience. 

Mrs Too, on behalf of UNODC, I’d like to express our gratitude to you and the Principal Secretary, Mrs Zainab Hussein, for supporting this initiative which we’re convinced will help to demystify community corrections and provide a platform for talent and skills development among young probationers. 

As the global guardian of the United Nations standards and norms in crime prevention and criminal justice, UNODC is mandated to support countries like Kenya in upholding the rule of law, promoting crime prevention and fair, humane and accountable criminal justice systems. 

We view this art project as a welcome addition to the technical support that UNODC is providing to PACS aimed at improving the department’s efficiency, service delivery and also its visibility. 

Our support is through the Programme for Legal Empowerment and Aid Delivery in Kenya, a partnership funded by the European Union that is strengthening the administration of justice and widening the use of alternatives to imprisonment. 

Mr Perr, on behalf of UNODC, thank you for the generous European Union funding for PLEAD. The European Union’s support is making this competition possible. 

In conclusion, boys and girls, let me underline that nothing that has happened in your past should stop you from creating a better future.

For those of you who haven’t done much art before, I hope you seize this opportunity to give it a try, and that you discover the power of creative expression – a power you may not have realized you possess. 

From Shanzu to Siaya; from Kimumu to Nakuru and everywhere in between: please get creative and tell your fellow Kenyans exactly what you want them to hear.  

See News: Art competition to empower children in conflict with the law