The first african forum of penitentiary administration and re-integration

Penitentiary management is a complex discipline: it not only calls upon and draws on several specialties but it must also take into account the social realities governing human relations within society.

The Kingdom of Morocco, which has chosen Universality as a basic principle underpinning individual and collective freedoms, has striven to steadily evolve its institutions, its sector-based legislation, and the constitutional fundaments which organize statecraft in all of its ramifications.

In this respect, penitentiary management stands among the sectors which have benefitted from special attention, notably in matters relating to security and the social re-integration of prisoners. This accounts for the overhaul of the Moroccan carceral system and the modernization of the Penitentiary Administration in its entirety.

In order to shed light on this evolution, and, above all, to put it at the disposal of its brothers and friends on the African Continent, the General Delegation of Penitentiary Administration and Re-integration organizes, under the High Patronage of His Majesty King Hassan II (May Allah grant him Glory), THE FIRST AFRICAN FORUM OF PENITENTIARY ADMINISTRATION AND RE-INTEGRATION, under the motto: Towards a Common Vision designed to Enhance South-South Cooperation & to face up to the Challenges and Constraints attendant upon the Management of Penitentiary Establishments,” in Rabat, on January 30-31, 2020.

The First African Forum is a new initiative taken by the Kingdom of Morocco, in a bid to develop and bolster South-South cooperation, at the continental level, which the Sovereign has not ceased to invite all African countries to shore up.

The management of the penitentiary sector is an area where, precisely, such cooperation is not only necessary but imperative, given the contingencies which affect the different components of African societies. This sector, more than any other one, must benefit from solutions that measure up to the magnitude of the challenges, as has been underlined by His Majesty on the occasion of the 29th Summit of the Heads of States and Governments, members of the African Union, which was held in Addis Ababa, on July 03, 2017 when he said: “Africa is no longer in need of ideological slogans; rather, it is need of concrete and resolute action in the areas of peace-building and human development.”

Obviously, penitentiary management is fundamentally one of the most problematic social aspects everywhere all over the world. Consequently, it deserves practical solutions that are well suited to the contexts wherein it is implemented. It should, in fine, benefit from an overall programmatic efficiency, notably from the points of view of security and the social re-integration of the individuals in a state of incarceration that it cares for.

This explains why the business of the 1st Africa Forum in Rabat, which is devoted to the management of the penitentiary administration, has set for itself the following main objectives: fostering experience sharing among African countries; exploring the prospect of unifying management methods and tools in this sector, and, ultimately, handling the common challenges facing the Continent in this particular area.

All of these stakes will be addressed with the promising ambition of modernizing the penitentiary administration and promoting good governance in this field, which carries a sensitive societal aim.

In this connection, the Moroccan experience in the area of the management and the reintegration of prisoners may be profitably capitalized on by African countries. It may, above all, serve as a model that is applicable given its achievements and its pioneering model of social integration benefitting prisoners, thanks notably to mentoring that is centred on training, vocational and artistic training, the enhancement of employability of prisoners, and also on a program that is rich in cultural, artistic, and sporting activities. 

1st African Forum: A Common Vision to Reinforce South-South Cooperation:

Under the High Patronage of His Majesty King Hassan II (May Allah grant him Glory), the Delegation of the Penitentiary Administration and Re-Integration organizes the First African Forum of Penitentiary Administration and Re-integration, in Rabat, on January 30-31, 2020, under the theme: Towards a Common Vision designed to Enhance South-South Cooperation & to face up to the Challenges and Constraints attendant upon the Management of Penitentiary Establishments.” This highly-important event sets for itself three major objectives: presenting the Moroccan experience in the management of penitentiary affairs on the security and re-integration planes; unifying the management of security challenges that are common to African countries, and, finally, promoting and modernizing penitential governance, on the continental scale.

South-South cooperation is a strategic fundament of the Kingdom’s foreign policy. This constancy reflects the enlightened vision of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, who keenly seeks to foster the bilateral and multilateral links which Moroccan has established with the countries of the South, in general, and brotherly and friendly African countries, in particular.

Major Objectives of the 1st African Forum in Rabat:

Indeed, the consolidation of inter-African cooperation bears witness to the Kingdom’s deeply-entrenched continental roots. It bespeaks the will to prioritize such choices as would promote the sustainable human development of African countries and populations, alike, in an endogenous and autonomous way.

In this regard, the penitentiary sector constitutes an area where Morocco may bring its unique expertise to the fore and put it at the disposal of its African governmental and institutional peers. The 1st Rabat Forum as an emblematic sector-based initiative is taken precisely for the purpose of developing, improving, and bolstering African skills in this highly sensitive area, which calls for a proven experience, notably in matters of security and inmate re-integration.

To this end, the 1st African Forum of Penitentiary Administration has the following matrix objectives:  

  • Developing cooperation between Morocco and Africa in the penitential area and the reintegration of (former) inmates;
  • Identifying the common challenges relative to the management of the penitentiary realm and their impact on the reintegration of inmates;
  • Undertaking consultation-based analyses of the realities of penitentiary institutions in Africa;
  • Offering a platform for discussion and experience-sharing for the various actors with stakes in the management of penitentiaries;
  • Contributing to the development of a strategic vision about the penitential domain as a whole;
  • Highlighting the roles and obligation of each stakeholder.

Towards a Good Governance of the Penitentiary Sector:

On a structural level, the holding of this continental meeting constitutes an opportunity which the organizers intend to avail themselves of in order to draw a common road map by all the participating African countries, the aim being to improve the management of the penitentiary sector in terms of its overall management, fostering both security therein and the programs designed to ease the social integration of inmates.

In fact, one of the major goals of the Rabat Forum is to elaborate common and relevant reintegration programs in the interests of inmates, and, by extension, to develop a common and coherent vision, spanning the medium and long terms that can readily translate into the design and implementation of structuring projects in the African penitentiary sector.

On the qualitative plane, the event aims to enhance experience-sharing and visions exchanges, for the purpose of engaging or bolstering the process of modernization of African penitentiary administrations in order to ensure good governance therein over the medium and long terms.

For this ambitious prospect to materialize, the participants in the Forum are called upon to engage in a constructive debate among the various actors with a stake in the management of penitentiaries and to derive the necessary lessons, from the achievements and stumbling blocks, alike, in order to ensure better governance of the area.

To that extent, initial and on-going training of African executive staff in the countries taking part in the Rabat meeting constitute the two main pillars around which sustained cooperation and functional exchange should be discussed and formalized. This is also why a structural incorporation of competency-building and supervised training, notably in matters of security management and social development, constitutes an essential framework for instructive and participatory exchange of experiences. The present Forum will constitute the best platform for the fulfilment of this ambition.

The will underlying the organization of the Rabat meeting is great and promising: it translates the firm determination of Morocco to interact with brotherly and friendly countries on the African continent—the natural and etiological extension of the Kingdom’s multicultural identity and civilization.   

Interactive Reflection and Debate on Core Topics:

The First African Forum of Penitentiary Administrations is driven by a program that is, at the same time, interactive and pragmatic. Indeed, over two days, the participating African countries will have to address two major core themes worthy of reflection.

The first core theme, which is programmed for the first day (January 30th), will be addressing the following fundamental question: “Which is the most efficient participatory approach to adopt to prepare for the re-integration of prisoners?”

The business of the second day (January 31st) will be structured in two panels. The first panel will be an opportunity for “the presentation of experiences in the areas of security management and the management of violent extremist prisoners within penitentiary establishments.”

The second panel will be dealing with “the modernization of the Penitentiary Administration and the Effectiveness of the Human Element.”

The Rabat Forum will be opened by an Inaugural Ceremony during which a video screening is scheduled which features visits paid by His Majesty King Mohammed VI (May Allah grant him Glory) to some African countries, and to penitential establishments, as well as sequences of rehabilitation programs and modern penitentiary spaces.

The First African Forum of Penitentiary Administrations will be closed by a reading of the Rabat 2020 Declaration and the telegram addressed by the participants to His Majesty King Mohammed VI (May Allah grant him Glory).

On the sidelines of the Forum, visits to institutional sites (Centre for Executive Staff Training and the Local Tiflet 2 Prison-house), as well as to tourist sites in the City of Rabat (Shellah, Hassan Tower, Kasbah des Oudayas, and the Old Medina) are scheduled.

The moroccan penitential experience

A Model to be capitalized on by African Countries

Even since the establishment of the General Delegation of the Penitentiary Administration and Reintegration in 2008, the management of penitentiary establishments in Morocco has witnessed a certain qualitative evolution. The implementation of the 2016-2018 Strategic Frame culminated in a clear improvement in the conditions of prisoners, in a general way. Besides, the momentum has been kept up in terms of the social and cultural integration of prisoners, through preparation for their positive reintegration within the society. The plan, whose structural guidelines have been renewed for the period spanning, 2020-2022, has also initiated the process of the modernization of the national penitentiary governance.

Thanks to permanent Royal solicitude, penitentiary establishments have witnessed a qualitative and quantitative improvement over the last ten years.

On the qualitative plane, it is evident today that special efforts have been expended not only to fully take care of prisoners and improve their carceral living conditions but also, and above all, to give them all the necessary guarantees, provided for by the Moroccan Law and the founding principles of human rights, to make of them fully renewed citizens.

In this respect, and aside from the positive supervisory tools which are already in place, such as education and literacy programs, care for prisoners today benefits, on the quantitative plane, from a whole range of measures. The latter, while assuring them the necessary protection, also offers them the opportunity to prepare for a full and wholesome reintegration within the larger society. In order to fully capitalize on the potential of success of this program, a steady effort has been undertaken to ensure training and on-going training for the staff and the executives working at the Penitentiary Administration, notably through capacity-building and development programs intended for supervisors and social workers. 

From Comprehensive Prisoner Care to Dynamic Reintegration

In this respect, it is noteworthy that the penitentiary establishment management model in Morocco has carved a space for itself among the most avant-garde models in the world.

The reintegration programs set up by the General Delegation have indeed been designed to bring such psychological, material, and scientific assistance and supervision as would allow inmates to benefit from the best professional, psychological, ethical, and material preparation possible in order for them to be re-integrated into society without difficulty.

In fact, it is important to note that preparation for reintegration is by no means a simple administrative formality, but rather a genuine strategic goal for imprisonment in Morocco. This explains why a vast program of education, literacy, and vocational training is supplemented by a dynamic and interactive artisanal and artistic training for the benefit of prisoners. This dual program benefits from the positive outcomes of the promotion and valorisation of artifacts that are produced by prisoners. 

In this respect, it is noteworthy that the penitentiary establishment management model in Morocco has carved a space for itself among the most avant-garde models in the world.

The reintegration programs set up by the General Delegation have indeed been designed to bring such psychological, material, and scientific assistance and supervision as would allow inmates to benefit from the best professional, psychological, ethical, and material preparation possible in order for them to be re-integrated into society without difficulty.

In fact, it is important to note that preparation for reintegration is by no means a simple administrative formality, but rather a genuine strategic goal for imprisonment in Morocco. This explains why a vast program of education, literacy, and vocational training is supplemented by a dynamic and interactive artisanal and artistic training for the benefit of prisoners. This dual program benefits from the positive outcomes of the promotion and valorisation of artifacts that are produced by prisoners.

These pedagogical measures are reinforced by a comprehensive animation and competition program which puts the prisoner within a dynamics of awakening and the valorisation of their potential. This necessarily prepares for their active reintegration and positive re-adjustment to a dynamic social life that is open to a larger and more promising social environment.

It is necessary, in this regard, to assert that the new experience, which was put to the advantage of the process of new re-organization of the penitentiary administration as of 2008, made it possible to launch a multidisciplinary policy designed to tap into and develop the creative talents of inmates and to upgrade their intellectual capacities.

To this end, several initiatives were taken in 2018, notably the publication of the first issue of the magazine, “Les Cahiers du détenu,” (or, the Inmate’s Papers) and the launch of several other programs and projects, such as the Cycle of scholarly conferences, ciné-clubs (cinema-clubs) and summer get-together for minors, as well as the radio station dubbed “Idmaj,” (or, Re-integration). All of these programs aim at enhancing the initiatives taken in the preceding years, pursuant to the Strategic Framework, 2016-2018.

Of note in this respect are: the organization of the 7th Edition of the program, University within Prison-houses; the launch of the 5th Edition of the Mussalahah (or, Reconciliation) program; and the continuation of the Cultural Cafés program within prisons.

In a systemic way, the evolution of the model of organization and management within the Penitentiary Administration and its placement under the aegis of the Offices of the Head of the Government makes of it an ambivalent structure with a high supervisory and leadership potential.

Also, in view of the new missions and responsibilities assumed by the General Delegation of the Penitentiary Administration and Re-integration, it is useful to highlight its duties which may be summed up in five dimensions:

  • The humanization of the conditions of incarceration;
  • The preparation of inmates for re-integration;
  • The enhancement of inmate security and safety;
  • The modernization of the Administration and the reinforcement of its governance procedures;
  • The taking into account of factors related to the environment, gender, and vulnerability.

Observance and Protection of the Basic Rights of Prisoners

Preparation for re-integration goes in tandem with the imperative of guaranteeing safety and security to inmates—a dual objective incumbent upon the Penitentiary Administration in a direct and fundamental manner. Besides, on a more fundamental level, the improvement of the conditions of imprisonment is not merely a slogan, but rather a concrete reality, which is why it is set up as an undeniable human priority. The prioritization ranges from the protection of the human rights of inmates to the steady improvement of the quality of food that is provided for them and the securing of the living areas where inmates spend their time.

Here, it is important to take note of the different measures taken so that the inmates may enjoy their fundamental rights. To this end, the year 2018 saw the initiation of a whole array of measures intended to foster the culture of human rights, through the training of different categories of penitentiary staff; the creation of human rights and citizenship clubs within penitentiary establishments; the establishment of reception and orientation centres in some prisons; and the elaboration of draft-law no. 23-98, in the framework of a global reform aimed at incorporating the new provisions, which guarantee a wider and more effective protection of the rights of inmates.

On a cross-cutting plane, physical and psychological inmate care benefits from increased efforts. Inmate care is further enriched by means of a large outreach program allowing prisons to open up onto the external world, thanks to partnerships aimed at promoting the creative and inventive potential of the penitentiary sector.

It is evident that the improvement of the condition of inmate care is tributary on making available competent executives and staff who are prepared for the specificities of this sector. In this connection, an executive and staff capacity-building policy is implemented by the General Delegation, aimed at the development of skills and the modernization of management and administration tools in use in the penitential sector.  This multidirectional policy steadily is and increasingly yielding its fruits and boosting the performance of the penitentiary administration.

True, though the problem of prison overcrowding (which has actually decreased by 2%) remains a major concern at the Penitentiary Administration –which endeavours to reduce it in the best conditions possible—the preoccupation should not eclipse the sustained efforts being expended for the purpose of improving inmate living quarters, thanks to the actions and supervised programs which have been described above.

Aware of the constant evolution of the carceral universe and the necessary adaptation and upgrade which must walk in step with the management of this sector, the General Delegation of the Penitentiary Administration and Re-integration has established a policy of international cooperation and partnership. This policy allows it to be abreast of and attuned to all that which fosters better management of the national penitential facilities and grounds. Moreover, this openness allows on-going interaction with the outside world and makes it possible to benefit from its practices in order to achieve controlled and better governance of the national carceral universe. 

Mentoring and Programs that effectively prepare Inmates for Re-integration:

Imprisonment is not an end in itself; it should rather be considered as a stage in the life of the inmate, which, while making him aware of his temporary “social marginality”, also, and more importantly, prepares him for social re-integration as a positive citizen.

It is this philosophy and vision which underlie the Moroccan inmate care model. Indeed, the GDPAR has set up a three dimensional mentoring system: education and training; professional, artistic, and employability training; and, finally, programming that is rich in cultural, artistic and sporting activities for the benefit of inmates. 

  • Education and Training:

The 2018-2019 school year saw the enrolment of 4,544 inmates in an educational program catering for different levels (primary, secondary, and higher). It should be noted, in this connection, that the success rate achieved by candidates for different end-of-study certificates (primary education certificate, secondary education certificate, and high school diploma) registered a 7% increase in 2018-2019, compared with the preceding school year. These educational and training programs will be extended during the current school year (2020), to attain 17 new establishments offering three cycles of studies. New literacy modules will likewise be offered, notably to female inmates and school support programs will be provided for minors that are unschooled or have dropped out of schools. Besides, spaces for university education will be expanded and generalized, in collaboration with the competent ministry and the universities concerned. Moreover, a pedagogical evaluation and follow up program will be set up, in partnership with the Ministry in charge of Education. Furthermore, psychological counselling and support units will be created and bolstered. Similarly, mediation centres will be expanded in the interests of already schooled and educated inmates so that they may continue to receive adequate on-going education and training.

  • Vocational, Artistic and Employability Training:

Several programs that are made available to inmates aim at offering them training, preparing them for re-integration, and enhancing their employability prospects once they are released. These varied and multi-functional programs range from vocational training to artistic creation and from artisanal production to automotive production and driving skills. In this respect, the Delegation sees to the commercialization of products made by inmates in the For Solidarity Souk (or, Solidarity-fostering traditional market) in Casablanca and allowing inmates to take part in various fairs and exhibitions. A field study has been launched in this regard which should result in the devising of a strategy based on a plan bearing on the development of the products made by inmates and the marketing of these products on the national scale. On a structural plane, the Delegation strives to offer employment to inmates in various units. It has likewise launched a field study for the purpose of crafting a normative framework fostering the employment of inmates within penitentiary establishments.

  • Cultural, Artistic, and Sporting Animation Programs:

Several programs are implemented to facilitate the process of inmate reintegration into society and to prepare them for such integration as citizens that are more adapted to civic life. Examples of such programs include: leisure program for minors and adults; cultural and intellectual popularization activities; animation and theatrical performance; musical animation; multidisciplinary sporting activities …

In parallel to this vast multi-sector-based and multidisciplinary programming, inmates benefit from mentoring and counselling aimed at providing them with moral, spiritual, psychological, and societal support and also at facilitating their outreach for the outside world.

All such mentoring has one major core objective: that of re-integrating inmates into society and putting all psychological, moral, and material means at their disposal to facilitate such re-integration.

In the foregoing, then, resides the Moroccan penitential experience—affording a model that may readily be capitalized on by African countries. Beyond its purely managerial aspect, Moroccan practices in this area may serve as a source of inspiration and as examples to follow and adopt by a number of African penitentiary administrations.

Hence, the timeliness and the relevance of this First African Forum in Rabat…

Delegation Generale de L'administration Penitentiaire et de la Reinsertion

A propos de la délégation générale a l’administration pénitentiaire et a la réinsertion

La Délégation Générale à l’Administration Pénitentiaire et à la Réinsertion (DGAPR) a été créée en 2008 en tant que structure autonome. L’objectif initiatique de ce changement vise à améliorer les conditions de détention et de contribuer à la réinsertion des détenus après leur libération, en total respect des dispositions constitutionnelles relatives à la promotion des droits de l'homme et des prisonniers, des directives Royales et des textes législatifs et réglementaires liés au secteur pénitentiaire.

La DGAPR a été érigée en structure autonome par Dahir n° I-08-49 du 29 Avril 2008 portant nomination du Délégué Général à l’administration pénitentiaire et à la réinsertion et fixant ses attributions. Elle a été, de ce fait, détachée du Ministère de la Justice et rattachée directement à la Primature. Ce changement de statut a entraîné un accroissement de son budget (équipement et fonctionnement).

La DGAPR a amorcé un changement d’orientation en janvier 2014. Elle connaît depuis une restructuration évolutive importante avec, notamment, une réorganisation de ses directions et divisions, l’instauration d’une inspection générale consolidée placée directement sous la responsabilité du Délégué Général. Cette transformation a été renforcée par le renouvellement de plusieurs directeurs de directions et de divisions, la révision du système de gestion des données et du système informatique, l’élaboration d’un système de classification des détenus et le développement d’une stratégie pour 3 ans (2015-2017) portant sur cinq axes d’intervention :

  • L’humanisation des conditions d’incarcération;
  • La préparation des détenus à la réinsertion;
  • La garantie de la sécurité et de la sûreté des détenus;
  • La modernisation de l’administration et le renforcement de ses procédures de gouvernance;
  • La prise en considération de l’environnement, du genre et de la vulnérabilité.