Mr. Sunil Saigal
UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative
Sierra Leone Correctional Service
From Prisons to Corrections - The Journey So Far
Thursday 13 September 2018
Venue: Correctional Service Showroom – Back of Special Court
Honourable representative of the Vice-President Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh – Attorney General and Minister of Justice Dr. Priscilla Schwartz,
Honourable Minister of Internal Affairs Mr. Edward A. Soluku,
Excellency United States Ambassador, Ms. Maria Brewer,
Director-General of the Sierra Leone Correctional Service, Mr. Bilo Sanpha Kamara,
SLCS Deputy Director General Mr. Joseph Lamboi,
Director of SLCS Human Resource Mr. Dennis Harman,
Representatives of Local Government, SLCS Managers and staff – all courtesies respected,
It gives me great pleasure to be here today celebrating the achievements of the Sierra Leone Correctional Service in the implementation of their Strategic Plan – The Journey So Far.
The Strategic Plan has been implemented under the project, From Prisons to Corrections, led by the Sierra Leone Correctional Service and supported by UNDP and the Government of the United States of America. In 2015, in preparation for the project, the SLCS and UNDP undertook a capacity assessment of the Institution, which clearly identified not only challenges faced by the Correctional Service, but also opportunities for it to achieve its Strategic Plan. The plan identified five thematic areas for change:
1. Safety and Security of Inmates, Staff and Society
2. Inmates Welfare
3. Reformation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration
4. Human Resource and Logistics Capability and
5. Welfare of Staff
The event today especially highlights the concerted efforts of the SLCS towards achieving its third thematic and strategic goal; namely to increase capacity to provide rehabilitative opportunities and treatment interventions, - develop prison industries towards providing gainful employment and self-sufficiency, and capacity to manage pre-release and re-integration programmes.
The very adoption of this important strategic goal for the Sierra Leone Correctional Service represents a critical shift in the perception of the role of the Service – and indeed the purpose of correctional sentences – from serving simply to mete out punishment to helping inmates change their behavior and increase their chances of being reintegrated in society and prevent recidivism.
In addition, this shift, and the strengthening of the capacity of the correctional services, contribute directly to the achievement of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and more specifically to the achievement of Goal 16, which regards the promotion of peaceful, just and inclusive societies through peace, justice and strong institutions.
I commend the leadership and staff of the Sierra Leone Correctional Service for the remarkable progress so far - in the implementation of Human Rights Audits – against the Mandela Rules (UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners), Prison Courts and most recently introduction of Assessment and Classification of sentenced inmates - the Service has significantly improved documentation, case management, security controls – but also living conditions for the inmates through access to family visits and leisure activities. We are also aware that these interventions are being undertaken in conjunction with a legislative review of the SLCS institutional framework; assessments and evaluations leading to comprehensive accommodation and industries masterplans; introduction of human rights audit tools within all 19 facilities and active contribution to the 2017 established pilot prison courts aiming to reduce the unsentenced population within Correctional Facilities.
These are all reform initiatives that are difficult and entails hard work and planning, but at the same time relevant and closely linked to the achievement of the overall goals of the Correctional Service Strategic Plan.
UNDP is also mindful of the fact that, despite determined efforts, SLCS still needs continued support from the government, its fellow institutions in the justice chain as well as the local communities to which inmates return following the conclusion of their sentence. UNDP also commends the Correctional Service for its proactiveness and progress towards ensuring that many inmates in the future will have the requisite skills to secure employment and avoid becoming engaged in illicit activities upon their release.
In support of rehabilitation and reintegration, UNDP is pleased today to launch an earning scheme for inmates, which will allow inmates to provide financial support to immediate family members during their imprisonment, and also to ensure that the inmate has some financial means available for a new beginning once released into his or her community.
As I reiterate my congratulations on the Journey So Far, I am pleased to reaffirm our continued partnership with and support to the Sierra Leone Correctional Service.