Improving Conditions to Preserve the Dignity of Detainees

Improving Conditions to Preserve the Dignity of Detainees

Improving Conditions to Preserve the Dignity of Detainees

Improving Conditions to Preserve the Dignity of Detainees

Some detainees in Ethiopia have lived through daunting times that could jeopardize the progress made in advancing their well-being and dignity. But the ICRC is helping to secure humane conditions for all detainees in the country, especially in areas affected by conflict.

Kebede, a detainee, was displaced by conflict. He says returning to Dessie prison to a new and harsh reality disturbs him. Prison authorities had transferred detainees – including Kebede – to other correctional facilities in Amhara region just before Dessie town became a battlefield for the war in northern Ethiopia.

“We came back to this prison after the war and everything was empty,” he says.

Detainees had to live in improvised conditions – often without access to health services, enough food, water and proper shelter. The prison faced an acute crisis since then,” explains Commissioner Mulu Tadesse, the Prison Administrator. Detainees struggle to start their lives all over again. They lost private property. Those serving long sentences are the most affected. Income from their livelihood activities was no longer available, leaving only a narrow path to cover basic individual needs such as food and clothing.

It also threatened family visits. Kebede’s family was displaced during the war. “Nobody has visited me since. I don’t know where they are,” he says, heartbroken.

The ICRC is helping to improve detention conditions and restore communication between detainees and their relatives. “ICRC has been with us step by step. They offered hygiene and sanitary items, generator, mats, pots, mattresses, medicines and medical equipment. The clinic was restored to its previous reality. Now, we have very few detainees going to the hospital,” elucidates Ms Tadesse.

ICRC also provided fuel efficient stoves for the kitchen, recreational items, material needed to maintain personal and environmental hygiene and a training on hygiene promotion for detainees. The aim being to ensure detainees’ well-being is respected and that the conditions of detentionare in line with laws and internationally recognized standards. This remains ICRC’s main objective of its detention work in line with its mandate and operational capacities throughout Ethiopia and in more than 80 countries worldwide.

“We no longer sleep on chip wood. We received mattresses from the ICRC. They fixed the water and now it flows. The generator gives us electricity,” concludes Kebede.

*Name of detainee changed for protection and privacy

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).