January 25, 2012 at 11am Penal Reform International in Central Asia will hold a press conference. Ex-prisoners, the Ambassador of Norway to Kazakhstan, the Regional Director of Penal Reform International’s (PRI) Central Asia Office and national experts in criminal justice will take part in the press conference.
In January of this year Penal Reform International’s Office in Central Asia starts a new project on «Rehabilitation of ex-prisoners and protection of their rights by joint efforts of civil society and State» supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The objectives of the project are protection of the rights of ex-prisoners by development of a rehabilitation system and detailed research into promotion of the best models. Rehabilitation services provided by the State and civil society capacity will be enhanced within the project.
According to the Ambassador of Norway to Kazakhstan Dag Malmer Halvorsen: «Today in Kazakhstan 49 per cent of prisoners have previous convictions and 63 per cent of them have already served their sentence. Repeated imprisonment of these persons indicates failed reintegration
into society. And we hope that the experience of Norway will play an efficient role in solving this problem».
Since 10 January 2011 the function of social adaptation and rehabilitation of ex-prisoners has been transferred from the prison service to local municipalities (akimats). This reform has not been widely enough broadcasted by the media, although it brings serious changes in the criminal executive policy of the country. Three rehabilitation centres in the Pavlodar, South Kazakhstan and East Kazakhstan regions have terminated their work. The little help that prisoners were waiting to
receive at the end of their imprisonment is no longer in practice.
«However, some of the local municipals (akimats) started their work with colonies and exprisoners», says PRI Regional Director Saule Mektepbayeva, «and practice is different in each region. As a result of our pre-project research we revealed that rehabilitation or resocialisation
services for ex-prisoners are currently provided by different religious centres and a small number of NGOs. In this case rehabilitation work with ex-prisoners needs not just special attention. It needs a government programme of rehabilitation services for ex-prisoners as, in 2010, 18,898 were released from Kazakhstan’s penal institutions, and in 2011, 15,185».