Freitag, 2. November 2012

Human Rights Education in German prisons.

First of all, I would like to thank Agata, Dorota and all the speakers of Monday for a great inspiring day in Warsaw. I learnt a lot!

I would like to share additional information related to one project of the Helsinki foundation, which I hope to be of interest to some of you.

During our meeting in Warsaw, Maria Ejchart  briefly discussed the Helsiniki Foundation’s project “Health Care in Polish Prison”, whose aim it is to analyze complaints by prisoners about their access to health care  - both from a legal and medical perspective. It was also mentioned that this is an especially vulnerable group who hardly find advocates for their rights in society. Similarly, prisoners often have very limited access to education. I would like to share my experience from working in a project that focused on human-rights-education of German prisoners.

The Anne Frank Foundation in Berlin is showcasing its exhibition “Anne Frank – A history for today” also in German prison facilities. Its educational approach is inspired by the peer-group-model which means that prisoners learn from each other. After having received a 2-day-training on German history, Anne Frank and related human rights issues, a group of prisoners works as an exhibition guide for other prisoners as well as school-classes from outside. This establishes a rare moment of dialogue with the “outside world”.

Education is one important key to re-socialization. This project not solely aimed to educate prisoners about the history of Anne Frank. It further educates them about the dangers of racism, prejudice and discrimination and encourages individual responsibility, communication skills and empathetic thinking, thereby challenging patterns of criminal behavior.

The project was so far carried out in 12 German prisons including juvenile and women’s detention centers. From my experience as a trainer in these projects, I can say that it is one of the rare opportunities for adult prisoners to get access to education. Furthermore it also empowers a certain group of prisoners who are opposed to neo-Nazism and white supremacist ideology (which is a widespread problem in many German prisons, particularly in the East).

The German project has been inspired by a similar project in the UK, where the Anne Frank Prison Project is already running since 2002. You can find further information here: (UK, in English) (Germany, in German)

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