UNODC collaborates with the Nelson Mandela Foundation on Nelson Mandela International Day
23 July 2021
UN's engagement through UNODC and OHCHR work with the government by supporting skills development and reintegration of inmates into society and reducing stigma.
In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly extended the scope of the Nelson Mandela International Day to promote humane conditions of in prisons, raise awareness about the need to ensure prisoners remain part of society, and to value the work of prison staff for providing important social services.
Through its resolution, the General Assembly adopted the revised UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. The Assembly also approved renamed them the "Nelson Mandela Rules" to honour the legacy of the late President of South Africa, who spent 27 years in prison in the course of his struggle.
The UN Country Team in South Africa, led by the Resident Coordinator, Ms. Nardos Bekele-Thomas, is fully committed to the Nelson Mandela Rules and strategic directions for the UN support to the country in line with the UN Common Position on incarceration. The UN engagement through the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) work with the Government of South Africa by supporting skills development and reintegration of inmates into society and reducing stigma around them.
As South Africa responds to the impact of the Covid-19 virus, the UN further supports and lauds the initiatives of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), particularly in the launch of the Vaccination Rollout Programme for Correctional Services Officials and Inmates. According to the department, the pandemic has affected correctional centres’ ability to function and has heightened the risk of infections seeding outside of correctional centres through interactions between correctional officials and communities, court visits, hospital admissions, and the admission and release of inmates.
The National Department of Health has provided the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine to DCS for inmates. Some of the inmate population has been vaccinated under the 50-year plus bracket. Many DCS employees have already received their first dose of vaccine across both public and private vaccination sites in the country.
In launching the Vaccination Rollout Programme for Correctional Services Officials and Inmates, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Mr. Ronald Lamola, said, “We are obliged to provide vaccinations for correctional officials and inmates to prevent outbreaks, and ensure the basic rights of inmates, officials and the wider community, are protected.” He added, “The health and safety of our inmates, officials, and the public, have been our top priority during this pandemic. Vaccines are the best defence to protect both offenders and officials against Covid-19 and when paired with existing measures, this will help to bolster our overall public health and safety.”
The UN in South Africa fully supports the DCS in upholding the Nelson Mandela Rules in the country. In partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the UN in South Africa has produced a video which highlights the history behind and importance of the Nelson Mandela Rules.