ASTANA – October 17, 2013 forum on the theme: “Social reform of the prison system: employment, reintegration and training” was held. The forum was attended by representatives of state authorities, experts as well as ex- prisoners.
In August 2010 the function on work with released prisoners was transferred to akimats. However, in practice this work was implemented only in a few regions of the country. According to PRI research, in the case of adoption of the program on employment of prisoners and ex- prisoners, the indirect effect of the program is estimated at 0.5 % of gross domestic product (GDP), and the budget savings will be 22 billion in total for 2014-2020 due to lower costs for prisoners in custody.
‘Traditionally, there is a stigma that civil service like akimats won’t be able to help ex-prisoners to prevent re-offending, and after release prison service and police shall continue their work on this. This is perhaps the biggest misconception, because employees of municipalities with a strong social agenda can help person who spent about seven and a half years (average term) in prison‘, said Saule Mektepbayeva, Regional director of Penal Reform International (PRI) in Central Asia. ‘Therefore, we organise a large number of training workshops for akimats` staff, encourage akimats to develop partnership on employment programs with local business and civil society. We often forget that social part is the most important, if we do not want 15,000 annually released prisoners to come back into prison‘.
According to Ardak Zhanabilova, Director of the Center on human rights monitoring, ‘Today about 80 % of the prisoners in Kazakhstan – are people under 40 years old, i.e. at working age. Through the provision of employment of prisoners, we will not only contribute to their resocialization, but also provide the payment of claims and maintaining relations with families who need financial support. Within the framework of PRI project we have focused on working with juvenile inmates, introducing correction treatment program “anti-aggression” involving them in the work with the artisans, artists, and chefs. The person serving a sentence should have a chance to start a new life. And I think the labour quota for ex-prisoners will not help. We have to provide them a profession – a start for a new life, not a quota‘.
The Forum was run jointly by PRI office in Central Asia, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Republic of Kazakhstan within the framework of the project “Rehabilitation of ex-prisoners and protection of their human rights by mutual efforts of civil society and the state”, with the financial support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway and the British Embassy in Kazakhstan.
For additional information and accreditation please contact Ilyas Nurmaganbetov, PRI project coordinator, tel./fax: + (7172) 798 885, 798 886, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org