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Plight of mentally sick prison inmates: Experts flay society, executive, judiciary

This is part of the resolutions arrived at by participants at a two-day national workshop on Mental Health and Justice in Nigeria held in Abuja…

This is part of the resolutions arrived at by participants at a two-day national workshop on Mental Health and Justice in Nigeria held in Abuja from 29th to 1st October.
A press statement issued by the Chairman of Media and Public Awareness Committee and member of the Governing Board of the Legal Aid Council, Abdulkadir Ahmed Ibrahim, said the workshop with the theme “Strategies for Effective and Humane Management of Prisoners with Mental Health Challenges” was jointly organised by the council and the Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action, PRAWA.
The participants want the authorities concerned to address the poor condition of prisons, improve the condition of service of the personnel, provide the needed working materials and adequate facilities and qualified manpower at psychiatric hospitals.
Similarly, the workshop which was sponsored by the European Union with the support of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, and attended by psychiatric doctors and allied professionals, Officers of the Nigerian Prisons Service, the Nigeria Police, judges, lawyers, NAPTIP and the mass media among others, advised trial judges and magistrates to, at the appropriate time, review the remand orders of mentally challenged persons arraigned in their courts.
They further resolved that a system of evaluating and examining the physical and mental conditions of suspects immediately after arrest, before prosecution, and during trial, should be introduced in the administration of justice in the country.
The participants frowned at the stigmatisation of the mentally challenged by the society and appealed to non-governmental organisations, the media and social welfare agencies to enlighten all and sundry on the dangers of such attitude while political, religious and community leaders should support and contribute to the healing process of the mentally challenged and subsequent re-integration into the society.
The workshop also stressed the need for the training and re-training of all categories of staff of Nigerian Prisons Service, the Nigeria Police, psychiatric doctors and nurses and judicial officers to enable them cope with the challenges.
It was also recommended that Nigeria should domesticate the United Nations convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability while the National  Assembly was urged to urgently pass the Mental Health and the National Policy on Health bills.

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