The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) organized a workshop in Bangui from 15 to 16 March 2023. The workshop's objective was to enhance prisoner classification within the Central African Republic (CAR) as part of an ongoing project to improve the classification system.
The event was attended by 34 participants, including prison directors, caseworkers, and members of the classification committee, from the Bangui area and other prisons outside of Bangui.
The workshop was moderated by Pamphile Oradimo, Director General of the Penitentiary Services in CAR, and focused on addressing the challenges encountered during the pilot phase of the classification tool's implementation. The initiative's main goal is to improve prison personnel's skills and capabilities in managing detainee classification effectively. This workshop is a crucial step towards achieving this goal and improving the overall quality of the prison system in CAR.
Since 2021, UNICRI, MINUSCA, and the National Prison Administration have collaborated to develop and strengthen the prisoner classification system in CAR. The project's first two phases involved creating a customized classification tool and enhancing the capacity of prison staff to administer it in three facilities. A robust, tailored classification process is essential for establishing long-term rehabilitation and reintegration programs within the CAR's prison settings.
Following a successful pilot phase in three prisons and a thorough evaluation, the project's next stage aims to expand the tool's usage to additional facilities and ensure its promotion at the highest level. This nationally owned tool enables CAR prison authorities to accurately assess prisoners' security risk levels and classify them accordingly. Proper classification is vital for providing appropriate housing and rehabilitation opportunities and reducing recidivism rates.
MINUSCA representative, Luc Zina stressed that the project's success is vital for the future of CAR's prison system.
"Empowering prison personnel with the necessary tools and knowledge can lead to a more secure, humane, and efficient environment for detainees. This, in turn, can pave the way for effective rehabilitation and reintegration programmes, ultimately fostering a safer and more just society for all," he said.
UNICRI representative, Chiara Bologna emphasized the importance of sharing experiences and lessons learned during the implementation process.
“By collaborating and exchanging ideas, prison personnel can enhance their skills and capabilities, leading to a more effective and efficient classification system,” she said.
Since 25 October 2022, the prisoner classification project has successfully classified 90 prisoners in Bangui-area prisons based on their records and interviews. This achievement marks a significant step forward in CAR’s prisoner risk assessment and management based on different risk levels and security requirements. Extending this classification to prisons outside Bangui is crucial for improving prison operations and facilitating prisoner rehabilitation.
MINUSCA and UNICRI will continue to provide the necessary support to national prison authorities for the effective implementation of the classification tools throughout the country.
The workshop demonstrated the significance of a comprehensive and efficient classification process and underscored both organizations' dedication to enhancing prison management and advocating for rehabilitation and reintegration efforts in the Central African Republic. The initiative is anticipated to significantly contribute to a more secure and humane environment within the nation's prison system, ultimately promoting a safer society for all citizens. With continued efforts and support, the classification system will help reduce overcrowding and ensure that prisoners receive appropriate care and support, offering hope for a better future for all detainees and the broader community.