On Nelson Mandela International Day 2022, Member States and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) came together in Vienna to affirm their commitment to the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners– also known as the Nelson Mandela Rules. At the same time, people across the world shared their experiences of translating the rules into effective action on the ground.
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The Nelson Mandela Rules provide clear benchmarks for prison officials on safety, security and the humane treatment of prisoners. UNODC is the custodian of these rules, working with the Group of Friends of the Nelson Mandela Rules to promote and support their adoption worldwide. The Nelson Mandela Rules provide States with detailed guidelines for protecting the rights of people deprived of their liberty, from pre-trial detainees to sentenced prisoners.The minimum requirements contained in the Nelson Mandela Rules are more relevant today than ever. Although crime rates are declining in many parts of the world, prison populations are increasing, with an estimated 11 million prisoners worldwide.
“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.” These words from Nelson Mandela remind us that the decisions taken on prisons affect each and every one of us. Rehabilitative prisons improve safety and security; they allow those leaving prisons to contribute to their communities; and they protect our humanity on both sides of the bars. The Nelson Mandela Rules preserve human dignity. For this reason the theme of this year’s Nelson Mandela International Day campaign was #DignityUnlocked.
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"Nelson Mandela is a global symbol of dignity, justice and resilience. He advocated for the fair and humane treatment of all people, including in prisons where he spent more than two decades of his life... On Nelson Mandela Day we celebrate his legacy by calling for humane prison conditions and sound prison management to break cycles of reoffending and to preserve the dignity and humanity of all."