Note from the Director of the regional office in Nairobi
In Kenya, we cooperate with the Kenya Prisons Service, Kenya Probation and Aftercare Service and other justice sector stakeholders to improve compliance with international human rights standards.
We have been engaged in cooperation in Kenya since the 1990s, with partners including civil society organisations, academic institutions and government institutions.
Since 2012, the Institute has focused on human rights in correctional services in Kenya, through in particular an intensive cooperation with the Kenya Prisons Service (KPS) on compliance with the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Mandela Rules) and other international human rights standards.
A successful partnership from 2012-2015 has been followed by a new cooperation programme from 2015-2019 that aims to build on achievements to date whilst also providing for an increased focus on internal sustainability and accountability measures.
The main part of the current cooperation aims to create sustainable capacity within KPS and Kenya Probation and Aftercare Service (KPAS) to meet relevant international human rights standards, in particular, the Mandela Rules, the Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and the Rules for Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty.
A secondary component aims to contribute to enhanced human rights perspectives in efforts for a coordinated, effective and consultative approach in the administration of justice and reform of the justice system in Kenya – through activities, particularly involving multi-stakeholder bodies – that also support and complement the main cooperation with KPS and KPAS.
We work with a unique set of methodologies we have developed to enhance respect for human rights in correctional services. At the core of the cooperation with KPS is an ongoing initiative to train prisons officers in auditing against international human rights standards.
Repeat audits in a number of pilot prisons have demonstrated consistent improvements in compliance with the Mandela Rules and other relevant standards since 2012.
In 2014, an independent review of the Kenya Programme found that it “has been successful in promoting and supporting change within KPS; which, together with other efforts of KPS itself, has resulted in enhanced recognition and respect for the human rights of prisoners.”
Concrete examples of reforms made by KPS officers and management include enhanced provision of information to prisoners, improved documentation systems, new medical examination protocols, prohibition of injurious punishments and the implementation of open contact visits for families.
A special project on assessment and classification of offenders in accordance with the Mandela Rules was launched in 2015, involving both KPS and KPAS as well as the Swedish Prison and Probation Service, and has already resulted in improved decision-making about individual offenders based on risk and need.
In 2016, the partnership between RWI and KPS was awarded the Correctional Excellence Award for Management and Staff Training by the International Corrections and Prisons Association.
Our current cooperation programme in Kenya is financially supported by Swedish Development Cooperation.