March-June 2023, Accra, Tamale and Kumasi - Access to healthcare; safe and liveable facilities; opportunities for education and training. These essentials and several others form the basis of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners – also known as the Nelson Mandela Rules. When these rules are followed and prisoners’ fundamental rights are respected, prisons are better able to fulfil their key purposes of securely housing inmates and preparing them for their safe release. As a result, life is better on both sides of the bars.
The Ghana Prison Service, like many prison systems around the world, faces challenges in fully meeting these standards. UNODC is working closely with the service to improve staff capacity, develop facilities, provide healthcare, improve pathways to rehabilitation and much more. Ultimately, this will benefit not only prisoners but Ghanaian society as a whole, making it safer.
For the Nelson Mandela Rules to make the greatest impact, every member of prison staff must know, understand and embrace them. For this reason UNODC, in collaboration with the Swedish Prison and Probation Service, is working to train trainers in Ghana to deliver an in-person course on the Nelson Mandela Rules. Training trainers to disseminate the rules will ensure that they reach as many prison officers as possible, boosting the positive impact on prisoners’ lives.
The course covers a range of topics related to the Mandela Rules, including the basic principles and standards for the treatment of prisoners, the role of prison staff in ensuring compliance with the rules, and the importance of rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners into society.
In collaboration with the Ghana Prison Service, with funding from the US Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, UNODC recently conducted the last of the three train the trainer workshops held in Accra, Tamale and Kumasi respectively. A total of 69 selected prison officers were trained. All 45 prison stations in Ghana, as well as the Prison Officer Training School and the Headquarters, took part in this training.
These 69 selected trainers from all the prisons in Ghana are expected to reach a further 1,500 prison officers, effectively embedding the rules where they will make the biggest difference. These officers will additionally complete the Nelson Mandela Rules e-learning course.
ADP Augustina Mensah Fiadzo, a representative of the Ghana Prison Service, expressed her appreciation for the productive training and emphasized the need for additional capacity-building initiatives in the near future: “For a long time some prison officers have not received in service training, so this training is a great step. It has broadened my mindset on the Nelson Mandela Rules, as well as the classification of prisoners and their risks and needs, and has improved my professional knowledge as a prison officer. These subjects are now very dear to my heart.”
The UNODC Global Prison Program, as well as the Regional Program for West Africa and its project, ‘Strengthening the compliance of the Ghana Prisons Service with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules)’, promote criminal justice reform in Ghana. The global program focuses on three strategic areas:
(i) Reducing the scope of imprisonment and crime prevention
(ii) Improving prison conditions and strengthening prison management
(iii) Assisting offenders in reintegrating into society and preventing recidivism
With thanks to our generous funder, the US Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.