UNDP Resident Representative Samuel Doe presents a course completion certificate to a Juba Central Prison Vocational Training Centre trainee on 14 June 2021, at Juba Central Prison in South Sudan. Photo: UNDP

14 June 2021, JUBA—The National Prisons Service of South Sudan (NPSSS) marked two new milestones in their progress towards transforming South Sudan’s prisons service into a correctional rehabilitation institution, with the launch of a new juvenile reformatory administrative block and graduation of 178 additional trainees at the Vocational Training Centre at Juba Central Prison.

The graduation and launch event were both presided over by the Hon. Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Paul Mayom Akec; Director-General of NPSSS Gen. Henry Kuany; Deputy Ambassador and Head of Cooperation of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands South Sudan H.E. Michel Deelen; Resident Representative of UNDP South Sudan Samuel Doe, as well as representatives of UNMISS, ICRC, and the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund’s Breaking the Cycle of Violence Technical Working Group that include UNDP, UNICEF and OHCHR.

“The objective of the word ‘correction’ is to change you from where you came from into good citizens who will not run into conflict with the law. I want to say to you, the graduates, that this is only the beginning of a long process for you. Use what you have been introduced to here, whether it is in masonry, plumbing, electrical engineering, or anything else, and take that knowledge only as a beginning. Dig deeper to realize the potential in your fields,” Minister of Interior Hon. Lt. Gen. Paul Mayom Akec told the gathered graduands and prisons staff, noting his appreciation of the commitment to continued collaboration of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, UNDP, UNMISS, and other partners, to the success and sustainability of the prisons service.

“The Netherlands has been associated with this VTC for quite a number of years and I am also happy to tell you we will continue with these types of activities, to promote access to justice by the citizens of South Sudan” said Deputy Ambassador and Head of Cooperation of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands South Sudan H.E. Michel Deelen.

The VTC graduation featured the centre’s fifth batch of trainees, consisting of 178 inmates and prison staff, who trained in twelve trades. The newest cohort brings the total number of VTC graduates to 907 people (769 inmates, 49 of which are female; and 138 prisons personnel, 37 of which are female). Despite the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, the graduates were able to complete their courses while following required public health protocols.

“To our partners, UNDP, and brothers from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, we are so happy that we are now implementing our duties of Prisons Service as being a rehabilitative, corrective, and reformative department, through your support,” said the Director of Juba Central Prison Lt. Gen. Michael Malou

The Juvenile Reformatory Administration and music block were supported under the United Nation’s Peacebuilding Fund (PBF). UNDP works with NPSSS administration to ensure that juveniles in conflict with the law are humanely dispensed in line with the Beijing Rules and Article 40 (I&II) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

“The reformatory school is now positioning itself as a complete facility, with accommodation, classes, and offices. That indicates the importance of our institutions to support the building of this dedicated facility,” said Director of Inmate Affairs Maj. Gen. George Gabriel Gilo.

Established in 2016, the Juba Central Prison Vocational Training Center, funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is a collaboration of the NPSSS under the Ministry of Interior, as well as the Ministry of General Education, Science and Technology; the Ministry of Labour and Human Resource Development; and UNDP. The VTC promotes indigenous expertise to ensure sustainability.

The vocational training programme aims to prevent recidivism by imparting technical and vocational skills to inmates that will enable them to pursue productive activities, earn their livelihoods and facilitate reintegration into their communities when released. 287 (33 female) trainees have been released and integrated back into the community. Some of the released trainees are working with UN Agencies, NGOs, CSOs and other private organizations, and some have also opened their own businesses.

“This working partnership with NPSSS, the Embassy of the Netherlands, and UNDP, is about ensuring that the prisons service acts as a turning point for correction and reformation, where offenders are not sentenced to a future of hopelessness but are supported to look forward to a future of hope and economic independence to prevent recidivism,” said UNDP Resident Representative Samuel Doe, during the graduation ceremony.

The in-prison vocational training programme will officially expand to Wau prison on 18 June, an undertaking planned and launched in 2019. The construction of an additional prison VTC is underway in Malakal, all with funding from the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The VTC programme is part of UNDP’s Access to Justice, Security and Human Rights Programme. The programme supports the delivery of justice and security through a sector-wide, holistic approach designed to increase the availability, affordability, adaptability, and acceptability of core services in South Sudan.

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About UNDP South Sudan Access to Justice, Security and Human Rights Strengthening Programme

The UNDP Access to Justice, Security and Human Rights Strengthening Programme is supported by the Kingdom of Netherlands, Government of Japan, the Peacebuilding Fund, the Resilience, Stabilization and Recovery Trust Funds for South Sudan and its core resources. The programme seeks to strengthen the capacity of key justice and security actors including the Ministry of Interior, Police, Prisons, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Law Review Commission, Human Rights Commission and Judiciary by reducing case backlog; addressing prolonged and arbitrary detention; harmonizing traditional and formal justice sector; and increasing access to justice for the people of South Sudan and promoting a culture of human rights respect.

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