[Dateline: New York | Author: DPKO/UNOCI]
On 28 January 2009, the keys to eleven prisons in the northern part of Côte d’Ivoire were handed over to local authorities in a ceremony at Boake’ prison camp.
While yet to be run by national prison officers, the official handover to Ivoirian prison authorities is considered a significant step towards the restoration of national state authority.
The handover took place following a substantial restoration process aimed at rehabilitating prisons in the Centre-North-West zone.
This rehabilitation project was first identified by the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) Rule of Law (RoL) Office and was then conceptualized and presented to the German government and the European Commission for funding. UNOCI’s RoL office was also instrumental in identifying the non-governmental organization Prisoners without Borders as implementation partners for the donors.
The handover ceremony was lead by the regional prefect representing the Minister of Justice, and was attended by representatives from UNOCI, Forces Nouvelles and Prisoners without Borders.
Another step towards the advancement of Ivoirian prison authorities was seen on 2 March 2009, when UNOCI’s RoL office participated in a graduation ceremony in Abidjan marking the end of a training course for penitentiary staff.
99 corrections officers (out of which 22 were women) graduated and received epaulettes for their achievement.
Representatives of the Ministry of Justice and the National Institute for Judicial Training especially thanked UNOCI for providing technical and logistical support.
The rehabilitation of prison infrastructure, the training of national staff and the handover of prisons are considered an important part of the overall restoration of state authority throughout the territory, and it is one, of many, UNOCI efforts to assist the peace process in the Côte d’Ivoire.