A group, Prisoners’ Rehabilitation and Welfare Actions, PRAWA, has said it has trained over 50,000 prison officers, police officers and other justice sector practitioners since its inception.
Speaking at PRAWA 20th Anniversary celebration, on Wednesday, in Abuja, its Executive Director, Uju Agomoh, said in the last 20 years, PRAWA has provided direct support services and rehabilitation to over 108,000 prisoners, ex-prisoners, youths at risks, torture victims and their families.
Mrs, Agomoh said PRAWA was the first to introduce Alternative to Violence Project (AVP) in Nigeria, which, subsequently, carried out over 100 AVP trainings across Nigeria and facilitated the National Roll Out of the Pro Bono Legal Service Clearing House and establishment of a National Database on Pro Bono Legal Services in Nigeria.
According to her, PRAWA implemented drug prevention and awareness projects in over 30 prisons in eight states of the Federation, 21 tertiary and secondary schools in two states, reaching over 39,000 youths.
She added that PRAWA has also produced over 69 publications on the field of prisons, justice, security sector, torture and social development as well as a 13-episode audio drama on torture, and four audio-visuals titled Echoes from Prisons, Rights of Prisoners, and Death Penalty and the Double Victim – focusing on the treatment of mentally disabled persons in prison.
“The organization’s publications include the development of the Nigeria Police Human Rights Training Manual, the Nigeria Police Force Human Rights Trainers’ Guide, and Practice Manual for Court Witness Volunteers, and Awareness Manual for Court Witnesses,” she said.
Mrs. Agomoh said the major factors that impinged on the evolution and choices of PRAWA were lack of core funding to cover cost of governance, project driven approach dependent on grant which frustrates full implementation of the organization’s strategic plan.
She added that Nigerian prisons lacked funding for rehabilitation activities leading to limited work done on the rehabilitation component of its mission, including difficulty in establishing the PRAWA rehabilitation youths village conceived since 2009.
Speaking at the 20th Anniversary, the chairman governing council of Nigerian National Human Rights Commission [NHRC], Chidi Odinkalu, said public safety and security is about the country, and that of all who live in it and in the communities.
“Safeguarding it requires partnerships between agencies of the state, communities, and civil society. NGOs like PRAWA will be needed to provide needed leadership in ideas, networks, and models,” he said. “As PRAWA looks forward to the next 20 years, it may begin to confront this challenge of renewing the criminal justice system by seeking to renew itself,” he added.
PRAWA is a non-governmental organization aimed at promoting security, justice and development in Africa.