LUSAKA, July 14 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on Friday called on member states to adhere to the UN minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners.
In 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 expressed concern that prisoners in many countries have continued to experience inhumane conditions, adding that time has 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, UNODC National Coordinator in Zambia Sharon Nyambe told reporters during a media engagement.
The UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners were named after the South African icon who spent 27 years in prison in order to honor his legacy.
The official added that it was the responsibility of member states to make a difference in the lives of prisoners following reforms going on in many countries to ensure that prisons move from penal facilities to correctional facilities.
According to her, the ultimate purpose of imprisonment was undermined in prisons which were overstretched and poorly managed.
The UNDOC, she said, has designed guidance materials and will be providing technical assistance and advisory services to member countries in the field of penal reforms.
This was aimed at helping 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 added.
In Zambia, she said the UNODC has this year provided 175, 000 US dollars for supporting rehabilitation programs in correctional facilities and the social reintegration of prisoners upon release.
According to UNODC figures, about 115 countries in the world have 100 percent overcrowding in prisons.
The UNODC acts as the custodian of the international standards and norms related to the treatment of prisoners, including the Nelson Mandela Rules.
Percy Chato, the head of the Zambia Correctional Services said at the same occasion that efforts were made to ensure that the country's correctional facilities adhered to the Nelson Mandela Rules in the treatment of inmates.
The authorities, he said, will do everything possible to embrace the basic principles in the rules.