Prison health services need improvement, says UNAMA report
Titled ‘Assessment of Afghanistan Prison Health Services,’ the report details how the health of the more than 25,000 inmates might deteriorate if their incarceration conditions did not meet minimum standards.
With prisoners reliant on the government to protect their health, international law requires national authorities to provide them with access to healthcare services equivalent to those provided in society generally.
In December 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted revised rules establishing the minimum standards of treatment for persons in detention. To assess Afghanistan’s compliance with the new rules, UNAMA undertook a comprehensive survey of 31 provincial prisons.
According to the UN mission, the report identifies several gaps in existing prison health services, including uneven availability of services, particularly for females, and provides recommendations to assist the authorities and donors in prioritizing efforts to address the shortcomings.
More opportunities were recommended for prison officials to share useful innovations implemented at some prisons so that the entire system benefits. It noted with concern the high number of children accompanying their mothers in prison.
To address this problem, the report recommends expanded use of alternative forms of sentencing than imprisonment.
“Afghanistan has laid a solid foundation for the construction of an adequate prison health service accessible to all prisoners,” said Michael Hartmann, director of UNAMA’s Rule of Law section. “It now must build on that foundation to ensure that its duty of care to all prisoners is fulfilled.”
To help Afghanistan meet the challenges outlined in the report, UNAMA’s Rule of Law officials are working with national and international partners in efforts to extend minimum standards of treatment to all prisoners.
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