March 5, 2019-Freetown, Sierra Leone: The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights UNDP organized a follow-up training for middle and senior-level personnel of the Sierra Leone Correctional Services (SLCS) on the application of the United Nations principles for the human rights treatment of inmates – The Mandela Rules
The two-days training at the Police Mess in Kingtom was attended by 40 SLCS personnel from across the 19 Correctional centers in Sierra Leone who, during the training reflected upon their levels of human rights compliance on the treatment of inmates. “Before now, we cared less about inmates’ basic human rights. These trainings are an eye-opener for us to improve our interaction with them. We are still not there yet, engagements like these will help us to learn and share successes and challenges in the application of the rules from the different correctional facilities nationwide.” Fanta Kamara, Manager at the Bo Female Correctional Center who has worked with the Prison service for 28 yeas.
The trainings, aim at improving technical capacity of the SLCS with regards to human rights compliance is in line with the Government of Sierra Leone’s 2014 Correctional Services Act that aims to transform the country’s prisons from punitive to correctional facilities in which the rights of inmates are respected. After this training in addition to the first human right audit training UNDP provided the officers in 2017, it is envisioned that, these centre managers will be better equipped to incorporate the Mandela Rules into their daily experiences and interactions with inmates, and better respond to barriers hindering the implementation of the Mandela Rules
The Acting Director SLCS, General Joseph Lamboi officially opened the two-day training expressing optimism that the modules taught would help the participants to reinforce the knowledge they had gained in the application of human rights in their day-to-day operations. He revealed that the workshop would be the final engagement in the implementation of the ‘From Prison to Corrections’ Project, which comes to an end in March 2019. “Please note that after this workshop, negligible or deliberate non-compliance with human rights standards at your centre will attract some disciplinary measures,” Mr. Lamboi cautioned the centre managers.
The human rights training is part of the UNDP Rule of Law project entitled ‘From Prisons to Corrections’ being implemented in partnership with the SLCS and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute and funded by the Government of United States Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. The project aims to assist Sierra Leone’s correctional services to achieve the country’s vision of moving from prisons to corrections under the 2014 Corrections Act, and to sustain the gains made along the transformational process in order to build a resilient and human right compliant institution.