Access to healthcare; safe and livable 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 prove staffing, 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, ensuring that this reaches 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 a four-day training of trainers’ workshop in Accra. A total of 28 selected prison officers from 19 prisons across Ghana, Prisons Headquarters and Prison Officers Training School took part.
This workshop is the first of three, with two more to be held in Kumasi and Tamale. These will train over 65 prison officers from all the prisons in Ghana, who 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.
The representatives of the Ghana Prison Service expressed their appreciation for the productive training and emphasized the need for additional capacity-building initiatives in the near future.
UNODC’s wider work in Ghana
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, US Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
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