(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) The Council of Arab Interior Ministers does not regard penal institutions as places of punishment but "a wider space for reform, rehabilitation and integration of inmates into the society later on," Council's Secretary General Mohammed bin Ali Kuman said Wednesday.
"These institutions are conducive to the former prisoners leading a free and dignified life," he said at the opening speech to the 17th conference for heads of the Arab penal institutions at the council's headquarters here.
Kuman stressed the significance of the issues on the conference agenda, especially what is relevant to the internationally acknowledged criteria for human rights and dealing with prisoners, as well as qualifying staff at penal and reformatory institutions to improve their performance.
He underlined the importance of alternative penalties so as to "avert severance of relations with families and the social circles, and to streamline re-entry into social life, in addition to securing no over-crowdedness in prisons, that takes toll on inmates rights and comfort."
The Council is highly interested in the issue of dealing with inmates with special needs, which is part of its keenness on guaranteeing the rights of this category "that is worthy of our care," Kuman told the session.
The secretary general also pointed out how the Council is keen on boosting cooperation between security and law-enforcement bodies on one hand and civil society organizations on the other. It is also open to all associations concerned with caring for prisoners, within the framework of a leading security philosophy that seeks removal of barriers between the police and the society, and builds mutual confidence and respect between security men and the citizens.
The Kuwaiti delegation to the conference, led by assistant director general for Reform Institutions, Brigadier Adel Al-Ibrahim, includes head of the Central Prison lieutenant colonel Khalid Al-Dawila, and the country's representative at the Interior Ministers Council in Tunis Khalid Abu Suleib.
Brigadier Al-Ibrahim told KUNA that such meetings were significant for the good of inmates, and also to unify mechanisms adopted by the member states regarding the acknowledged human rights criteria, dealing with inmates and qualifying staff at penal and reformatory institutions.
Al-Ibrahim expressed hope the Tunis conference would issue recommendations that are likely to lead to fostering Arab cooperation in the field of penal and reformatory institutions.
The conference, attended by representatives of the Arab League and the Naif Arab Academy for Security Sciences, discusses a host of issues, that include alternative penalties and their role to avoid congestion in penalty institutions, besides dealing with inmates with special needs.
Other topics on the agenda cover countering riots at penalty and reform institutions. Participants will also review relevant experiences by member states.