The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on Friday, called on member states to adhere to the UN minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners.
UNODC’s National Coordinator, Sharon Nyambe, made the remarks ahead of the Nelson Mandela Day on July 18, 2017 and the Day of Prayer and Action for Prisoners on the 15th July.
The UNODC acts as the custodian of the international standards and norms related to the treatment of prisoners, including the Nelson Mandela Rules.
He expressed concern that prisoners in many countries continued to experience inhuman conditions, adding that time had come for states to provide conducive environments for inmates.
“A large number of prison systems around the world are at a stage of crisis with serious effects on prisoners, their families and societies as a whole in Zambia,’’ Nyambe said.
The UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners were named after the South African icon that spent 27 years in prison, to honour his legacy.
Nyambe said it was the responsibility of member states to make a difference in the lives of prisoners following ongoing reforms in many countries.
Nyambe also said it was to ensure that prisons move from penal facilities to correctional facilities.
She said that the ultimate purpose of imprisonment was undermined in prisons which were overstretched and poorly managed.
The UNDOC, she said, had designed guidance materials, adding that it would provide technical assistance and advisory services to member countries in the field of penal reforms.
The national coordinator said the effort would help member states develop or strengthen penitentiary legislation, policies and practices in line with the rules.
‘’The UNODC has also developed the Nelson Mandela Rules compliance checklist which forms part of its global programs on addressing prison challenges.’’
She said UNODC in Zambia had provided 175, 000 dollars for supporting rehabilitation programmes in correctional facilities and the social reintegration of prisoners upon release in 2017.
According to her, figures shows that about 115 countries in the world have 100 per cent overcrowding in prisons.
Percy Chato, Head of the Zambia Correctional Services, said at the occasion that efforts were made to ensure that the country’s correctional facilities adher to the Nelson Mandela Rules in the treatment of inmates.
He promised that the authorities of the facilities would do everything possible to embrace the basic principles in the rules.