The heads of Prisons/Correctional services in the East African Community (EAC), recently met in Arusha, Tanzania and discussed ways to further cooperation in the areas of information exchange, training and knowledge transfer.
Speaking to The New Times, the Commissioner General of the National Prisons Services, Mary Gahonzire, said that the meeting identified several areas of cooperation.
“We agreed to establish common standards on the governance and management of the services, in view of regional and global mandates pertaining to Correctional Services and the dictates of the EAC regional environment,” Gahonzire said.
“The delegates also agreed to facilitate a cross regional information exchange and the enhancement of regional standards, policies and practices within the sector through research and the collection of data on prison population, facilities, financial resources and personnel.”
She added that exchanging knowledge and sharing experiences among the EAC prison services is vital, since it will improve on the services provided by the regional prison services.
Gahonzire revealed that EAC Prison Services will establish mechanisms for the transfer of prisoners within the region.
During the forum it was recommended that a Prisons Sectoral Liaison Office be established at the EAC Secretariat to coordinate the activities.
The prison heads also resolved to establish standards for human resource development within the services, through conducting a comparative analysis on career development across other jurisdictions to establish existing gaps.
At the meeting, the delegates noted that compared to other agencies under the Inter State Security Sector, Prisons Services were behind schedule in the EAC integration process and urged the Secretariat to organize more frequent engagements.
It was recommended that, an experts working group meeting be held to work out an elaborate and detailed plan of action for implementation of the identified areas of cooperation within the next two months.
The Heads of Prisons are expected to attend the Sectoral Council on Inter State Security scheduled for April 13-16, 2010 in Bujumbura, Burundi, that will culminate in the destruction of Small Arms and Light weapons as a symbol of African Union Year of Peace 2010.