Seychelles prison service celebrates International Mandela Day Seychelles prison service celebrates International Mandela Day | 20 July 2019
The late founding president of democratic republic of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, once famously said: “It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”
In commemoration of the Nelson Mandela International Day, the Seychelles Prison Service in collaboration with its partners such as the Ministry of Family Affairs, Agency for Social Protection and the Prison Advisory Board, organised a half-day workshop yesterday for the prisons management team as well as a group of inmates.
Mandela spent 27 years in prison, making him the longest serving political prisoner in recent history. His reflections on life on Robben Island Prison – then a maximum-security prison in Cape Town, South Africa – have partly inspired the revised United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, now popularly known as the Nelson Mandela Rules.
The aim of the workshop was to sensitive both partners, inmates and staff on the Nelson Mandela rule, report on the recidivism study in Seychelles, to provide updates on projects at the Montagne Posée prison and to provide updates on the prison rehabilitation service (Project Phoenix).
The workshop started with opening remarks from the Superintendent of Prisons Raymond St Ange. “The Nelson Mandela International Day promotes the safe and humane custody of people in prisons or correctional facilities. Notably, they prohibit torture, discrimination and degrading punishment among many other human rights violations and also value the work of prison staff,” noted Mr St Ange.
He added that the prison service continues to focus on improvements that are needed and the staff work. He noted the prison’s role is to prepare inmates while they are in prison to reform themselves and manage to become a productive member of the community once released.
“There are six to eight aspects to the Mandela rules and we will be conducting trainings with the prison staff so they become knowledgeable of them and in turn learn how to treat prisoners. The training will cover every aspect of the Nelson Mandela rules and it will benefit prisoners through the conventions protection, it will give a balance to make life in prison more orderly,” added Mr St Ange.
The superintendent also talked about the provision of health care for prisoners stated in the Mandela Rules which says that prisoners should enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community and should have access to necessary health care services free of charge without discrimination on the grounds of their legal status.
Health care services should be organised in close relationship with the public health administration and in a way that ensures continuity of treatment and care, including for HIV, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases, as well as for drug dependence.
During the workshop, the prison management also gave a presentation on the eleven projects that are being undertaken at the Montagne Posée prison such as renovating toilet facilities within the inmate block, renovating and updating the special investigation unit, constructing a K9 unit among others.
Consultant Benjamin Vel also took the podium where he gave a very detailed case study on recidivism, which is the act of repeating an undesirable behaviour after one has either experienced negative consequences of that behaviour, or has been trained to extinguish that behaviour. It is also used to refer to the percentage of former prisoners who are arrested time and again for a similar offense.
Mr Vel gave a detailed presentation on why they commit these offensive behaviour over and over again.
The workshop ended with a presentation of tokens of appreciation.