UNODC and Ghana Prisons Service launch new prison reform project
08 December 2021
A new prison reform project aims at enhancing capacities to ensure the safe, secure and humane custody of prisoners in line with the Nelson Mandela Rules.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Ghana Prisons Service, in partnership with the US Embassy in Ghana, have launched a three-year prison reform project. The initiative aims at strengthening the compliance of the Ghana Prisons Service with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, otherwise referred to as the Nelson Mandela Rules. Funded by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) in the State Department of the United States of America, the project will focus on improving prison conditions, including health and basic services, the classification, categorization and allocation of prisoners as per their individual risk and needs and on enhancing prisoners’ access to sustainable rehabilitation programmes.
In a keynote address by the Chief Director at the Ministry of Interior, Ms Adelaide Anno-Kumi on behalf of the Minister for the Interior, noted that the prison reform project could not come at a better time, considering that there is a new community sentencing bill on the way which will help to decongest prisons. She reminded the audience that the purpose of imprisonment, according to the Nelson Mandela Rules, is to protect society from crime and to reduce reoffending, which can only be achieved if the period in prison is used to prepare the prisoners for the re-integration into society upon release and to lead a law abiding and self-supporting life.
The U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Ghana, H.E Ms Stephanie S. Sullivan, said the United States will continue to support Ghana’s effort to strengthen the prison service, adding that the new project is an opportunity to help improve the safety, security, and transparency of Ghana’s prison system, thereby increasing public confidence in the justice system.
The Director-General of the Ghana Prisons Service, Mr Isaac Kofi Egyir, made reference to the fruitful previous collaboration between the Service and UNODC during the drafting of a new prison bill, which soon will be submitted to the Attorney General’s Office, and the procurement of personal protective equipment helping to prevent infections in prisons, and highlighted the immense importance of the new long-term collaboration.
The launch, which took place in Accra, on December 8, 2021, was attended by Officers from the Ghana Prison Service, UNODC officials, members of civil society organizations and other stakeholders, and was followed by a two-days introductory workshop for 25 senior prison officials on prison management in line with the Nelson Mandela Rules.