Accra – The United Nations Information Centre, Accra has marked this year’s Nelson Mandela International Day with a forum at the Senior Correctional Centre in Accra, a correctional facility also known as the Borsal Institute currently holding 116 inmates between the ages of 13 and 18 years for various offenses such as rape, defilement, stealing and assault.
The forum, on the theme “The Legacy of Nelson Mandela, from Prison to President”, was held to inspire and motivate the inmates of the SCC to eschew negative lifestyles during their temporal stay at the Centre and after. All the 116 inmates and 50 Officers of the correctional facility were in attendance.
The OIC and a Deputy Director of Prisons, Stephen Coffie, Esq. welcomed delegates.
The National Information Officer of UNIC Accra, Ms Cynthia Prah explained the rationale behind the Nelson Mandela International Day. She said the United Nations observes the Day globally in recognition of Nelson Mandela’s major role as a freedom fighter in South Africa and as a peacemaker throughout the world.
Speaking on the topic, Discipline in a correctional centre, a requirement and a reward, Deputy Superintendent of Prisons Gloria Abudu provided an overview of institutional essentials of discipline at a correctional centre and the fundamental rights of inmates. She said discipline at correctional facilities is central to their effective management and the maintenance of law and order.
For his part, a lecturer at the Institute of African Studies Dr. Michael Kpessa focused on the topic Nelson Mandela as an African icon to the youth. He said, unlike Nelson Mandela, who was relatively old when he was confined, the inmates at the SCC are young and thus have several years ahead of them to turn their lives around. Furthermore, the inmates are not confined for life and they are provided with some skills training opportunities. He admonished them to take advantage of available opportunities at the Centre to prepare themselves for the future. He advised the inmates to spend their time reading and writing just as Mandela did. Dr. Kpessa commended UNIC Accra for the initiative to share valuable information with inmates of a correctional facility and encouraged Civil Society Organisations and other organizations to engage such institutions in outreach programs.
The inmates participated actively during the Q & A session. UNESCO-donated books on HIV/AIDS were presented to the most active participants as awards.
The video message of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was projected to participants.