Beyond bars: a chance for a meaningful life

Fifty-four year old Ney Herbert Cafazo Barboza, an inmate at the Punta Rehabilitation Centre in Uruguay, is serving the rest of his sentence teaching information technology to visiting students from other prisons. “I develop plans that are really effective for teaching in jail,” he says.

The training is part of project designed to give inmates skills and prepare them for the outside world. Implemented by the United Nations and the Government of Uruguay, the programme aims to ensure that detainees’ human rights are upheld.

Uruguay is one of eight pilot countries in the UN joint interagency development programme called “Delivering as One," which seeks to capitalize on the strengths and comparative advantages of the different members of the UN family and increase its impact on a variety of issues and programmes. The other “Delivering as One” pilot countries were Albania, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Pakistan, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Viet Nam.

In developing the prison reform project, the Government of Uruguay followed-up on the recommendations made by former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, who visited the country in 2009. At that time, prisons in Uruguay were holding 130 per cent more than the recommended number of detainees.

"What was amazing to me is how much can be done with a government that is willing to take on board recommendations coming from the international human rights system,” said Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang.

Nowak’s visit galvanised political will and support in Uruguay to address the serious problems that come with overcrowding in penitentiaries.

This video shows the impact of the joint UN “Delivering as One” project in Uruguay’s prison system.

15 February 2013


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