The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) published a new tool on 9 August 2018 to support the effective implementation of minimum standards for the treatment of prisoners. The resource, produced jointly with Penal Reform International (PRI), was launched initially online.
The Guidance Document on the Nelson Mandela Rules – Implementing the United Nations revised Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners is a practical tool that explores the main human rights issues that arise in prison settings and examines how these can be addressed by implementing the Nelson Mandela Rules.
‘Respect for human rights and the dignity of all in prisons is indispensable to achieving a safe and secure environment,’ said Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, Director of ODIHR. ‘This publication will support prison managers and staff in ensuring that standards for the treatment of prisoners are in place to protect their human rights and, in particular, prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in prison settings across the OSCE region.’
Building on existing international legal and practical tools, ‘soft law’ principles and opinions of authoritative bodies, as well as promising national-practice examples from the OSCE region and beyond, the publication provides comprehensive guidance for the interpretation and effective implementation of the revised Rules in areas such as prison management; safety, security and dignity for all; incident prevention and response; restrictions, discipline and sanctions; contact with the outside world; healthcare; and external monitoring.
‘The Nelson Mandela Rules are an excellent and comprehensive guide for managers and staff of penal institutions. However, the reality of prison life means that complex situations arise on which more in-depth and detailed guidance is needed to interpret and implement the Rules,’ said Alison Hannah, Executive Director of PRI. ‘This guidance document fills this gap with expert practical advice and examples of good practice. The whole range of actors involved in the treatment of prisoners, including those working with them on a daily basis, will find this an invaluable resource in fulfilling their important role.’
First adopted in 1957, the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners were revised and adopted again, unanimously, as the Nelson Mandela Rules by the UN General Assembly in 2015. The addition of the reference to Mandela was both in reference to the major support South Africa provided in the revision process, but also to honour the legacy of the late South African president, who spent 27 years in prisons in the course of the struggle against the apartheid regime.
Download the Guidance Document on the Nelson Mandela Rules here.