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    HomeNewsHonduras Editorial: "a decade of promoting humanity in detention"

    Honduras Editorial: “a decade of promoting humanity in detention”

     

    By Guela Sekhniachvili, head of the ICRC’s mission in Honduras

    Humanity should know no bounds. Even in prisons, people must be treated with dignity, regardless of the reason they were incarcerated.

    The Nelson Mandela Rules state that because imprisonment is afflictive by the very fact of taking the right of self-determination from prisoners by depriving them of their liberty, the prison system should not aggravate the suffering inherent in such a situation. Any additional suffering is unjustified and does not contribute to the social rehabilitation of prisoners.

    Prison systems must therefore ensure that all detainees have access to essential services, such as water, food and health care, and that their fundamental rights are respected. Inmates must be allowed to keep in touch with their families and have access to effective rehabilitation programmes, and those who are particularly vulnerable or have special needs must receive differential treatment.

    In a world where detention often entails a loss of rights and dignity and where people deprived of their liberty are out of sight and out of mind, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) – whose mission is to protect human life and dignity – works with the authorities in different countries to promote more humane prison systems, an increasingly necessary task that requires determined and long-term efforts.

    We have been carrying out detention work in Honduras since 2015. We monitor living conditions in prisons and are constantly attentive to the needs and concerns of detainees. We engage in bilateral confidential dialogue with the authorities to support them in ensuring that detainees are treated with dignity and in improving prison management. Their open, receptive and collaborative attitude is highly commendable and greatly facilitates our work.

    We remain steadfast in our commitment to contribute to building a safe and humane prison system by supporting long-lasting structural improvements consistent with international standards in this field.

    Our humanitarian work in prisons over almost ten years has involved promoting projects that have had a positive impact for both detainees and prison staff and authorities, including infrastructure improvements to ensure access to safe drinking water and risk prevention measures. We are, however, under no illusion as to the extent of the challenges involved.

    In June 2023, the death of 46 women in a riot at the PNFAS women’s prison highlighted the pressing challenge of ensuring the safety of detainees and prison staff, a major concern for prison authorities the world over. We are fully aware of the safety and security issues faced by prison authorities. Our confidential dialogue with them is based on an understanding of the complex situation and seeks to promote continuous improvement, with the focus always on the importance of protecting people’s lives and safety.

    The government must also ensure that other rights are upheld, such as timely access to health care, judicial guarantees enabling detainees to know what their legal situation is and access to prison privileges where applicable. This requires coordinated efforts and commitment from the authorities.

    Working with representatives of the Judiciary, the Honduran Prison Service (INP), the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Solicitor General, we promoted the reform of the special law concerning the compassionate release of terminally ill detainees to enable them to spend what time they have left in dignified and humane conditions with their loved ones by their side.

    The next step is for the Supreme Court of Justice to introduce the bill into Congress. The debate of the bill and its enactment would be tangible proof that humanity in detention is not only possible but achievable.

    Prisons are mirrors that reflect a nation’s commitment to ensuring people’s rights and dignity. We reiterate our willingness to continue working jointly with the Honduran authorities and other humanitarian organizations with a view to protecting the lives and dignity of people in places of detention.

    Humanity in prisons matters and must be protected.

    We acknowledge Source link for the information.

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