Fiji Correction Service’s transformative journey inspired by the Nelson Mandela Rules for prison reforms was highlighted by the Permanent Mission of Fiji to the United Nations and Other International Organisations at the special commemoration of the Nelson Mandela Day recently observed at the United Nations in Geneva .
Speaking at the virtual event on Vienna Based Group of Friends of the Nelson Mandela Rules, First Secretary at Fiji’s Permanent Mission in Geneva, Mr Vueti May highlighted the reformation of Fiji’s Corrections Service from a punitive justice system to one of a corrective rehabilitation center.
This change follows Fiji’s close engagements with the office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights in Geneva and the Office of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) based in Vienna.
In December 2018, following the invitation of Fiji Corrections Service, the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer of the UNODC, Mr. Philipp Meissner visited Fiji for a scoping Mission on the application of the Nelson Mandela Rules at Fiji’s correction facilities.
It was stated that the scoping mission was a great success which, included training programs for the Fiji Correction officers and consultations with heads of Fiji’s criminal justice system. Fiji as a result was chosen by the UNODC to pilot the development of UNODC e-learning course on the Nelson Mandela Rules.
First Secretary May, in his closing remarks acknowledged UNODC’s ongoing efforts towards prison reforms, including its work in delivering vital assistance to those in need during the COVID19 pandemic. UNODC during the COVID19 pandemic period had also issued a COVID-19 preparedness position paper as a guide to member states Correctional Service department for the safety of inmates and their supervisors.
Other notable participants in the event include the Minister of Justice and Corrections Services of South Africa Hon. Ronald Lamola, and the Executive Director of the UNODC, Ms. Ghada Waly. Nelson Mandela Day is commemorated worldwide on July 18.
The Nelson Mandela Rules was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015. The Vienna-based Group of Friends of the Nelson Mandela Rules is a group of 30 like-minded Member States that supports the practical application of the Nelson Mandela Rules.