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09.12.2000 | A.Bukalov, Donetsk

Seminars for the personnel of colonies

   

In the framework of the project ‘Promoting openness of prisons’, that is financed by the inter-national organization ‘Penal Reform International’ (PRI), the Donetsk branch of ‘Memorial’, in April – July, held three seminars for the workers of penitentiary system. One seminar was held in Chernigov for teachers of the lawyers’ school that prepares personnel for the penitentiary establishments; another seminar was held in Melitopol for the personnel of the reforming colony; the third seminar was held in Mariupol for the personnel of the three penitentiaries situated in the town: for a preliminary prison, a reforming colony for men and another for women. The seminars were of the informative kind focusing on the problems of violation and protection of human rights. Although the rights of the incarcerated were not concerned, the seminar organizers started from the doctrine formulated in the Second general report of the European Committee against tortures: ‘There is no better guarantee against bad treatment of incarcerated as a correctly trained prison personnel’. In the capacity of trainers, Oles and Nina Kusaykins from Kharkiv Education Center of human rights took part in the seminars. During two days the participants of the seminars could learn the history of development of the concept ‘human rights’ and the existing international documents in this sphere. Together with their trainers they had to answer such questions as ‘Is there any justification for abusing human rights?’, ‘Which are the main sources of the abuses?’. In the Melitopol reforming colony for women practical training on the applied right were held. The discussion of the problem what is the use and what are the dangers of making penitentiaries more open caused an especial interest among the practical workers of as closed establishments as colonies. They pointed out the undoubtedly positive effect of growing relations with public organizations in solving problems existing in the system. At the same time many practical workers hesitated whether the frequent visits may negatively influence the operative situation in penitentiaries. The participants of the seminars were lectured on the activities of human rights protection organizations in Ukraine, with the specific character of their work and about the results of their cooperation with penitentiary establishments. Every participant got a package of informational materials, which was prepared by the Donetsk ‘Memorial‘ and PRI. The seminars demonstrated that the workers of penitentiaries are rather interested in the cooperation with NGOs, they actively discussed the problems of human rights and their protection, they expressed their readiness to cooperate with public organizations. At the same time the organizers of the seminars understood once more that while preparing such seminars they must take into consideration the specific traits of the professional group, that they must carefully select the discussion topics and methods of teaching.

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