New Publication – Implementation of the Bangkok Rules

Hot off the presses of the world-renowned international NGO, Penal Reform International, and its partner, Thailand Institute of Justice, comes another key resource aimed at supporting actors implement the UN Bangkok Rules.

This brand new practical resource, Guide to the rehabilitation and social reintegration of women prisoners: Implementation of the Bangkok Rules aptly complements PRI’s other publications which comprise its excellent UN Bangkok Rules Toolbox (as also highlighted in these pages under Other Resources). According to the authors of the new publication:

“Women and girls are a minority within prison systems, making up just 6.9 per of the global prison population. As a result, their specific needs and characteristics have tended to remain unacknowledged and unaddressed. Women continue to face particularly acute challenges and barriers in accessing programmes and services in prison, and there are often limited rehabilitation opportunities available to them.”

In the Canadian context, the Office of the Correctional Investigator has documented such challenges and barriers in its past Annual Reports. Similarly, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women echoed related concerns during its 2016 examination of Canada in Geneva, Switzerland.  

The authors have underpinned the utility of this guide on the implementation of the UN Bangkok Rules in the following terms:

“This new tool, developed in collaboration with the Thailand Institute of Justice, is designed for use by prison management, staff, policymakers and others involved in the criminal justice process, including legislators, judges and law enforcement officials. It aims to provide practical guidance on improving existing rehabilitation programmes and services and designing new ones, looking at different country contexts and taking into account location-specific challenges and opportunities.”

“This guide summarises the importance of good prisoner rehabilitation and social reintegration programmes and identifies the main barriers to successful rehabilitation, including the particular barriers faced by female prisoners and by specific groups of female prisoners such as girls, foreign nationals and women from ethnic minority groups. Identifying these barriers provides an insight into why additional efforts are needed to assist the rehabilitation of women offenders.”

Beyond the above users, Canadian detention monitors and human rights actors could equally employ this resource as a helpful reference point for gauging strong or weak domestic penal practice in the domain of the rehabilitation and social integration of women prisoners.

Similarly, in countries which have ratified the OPCAT (not to-date Canada), NPMs might also resort to the guide as a useful tool in assessing practice in this respect.

The thrust of this tool, found in part 2 titled Guidance, is especially relevant, comprising some four main sections, as follows:

  • Baseline for successful rehabilitation;
  • Education, vocational training and work;
  • Preparation for release and post-release support;
  • And rehabilitation programmes for specific groups.

As we human beings come in different shapes and sizes, the latter focus is sensitive to the needs of different types of prisoners. As such, this section centres on the rehabilitation needs of diverse groups including girls, pregnant women and women with children, foreign nationals, racial and ethnic minorities and Indigenous prisoners, prisoners with different mental and physical healthcare needs, LGBTI prisoners, as well as older prisoners.

barring freedom by meesh 2012

The publication concludes with a useful list of 10 key principles for gender-sensitive rehabilitation programmes, which in itself could act as a practical yardstick for Canadian detention monitors and penal reformers.

In a nutshell, the Guide to the rehabilitation and social reintegration of women prisoners: Implementation of the Bangkok Rules makes a valuable contribution to PRI’s myriad of other excellent resources on the subject as well as the wider implementation of the Bangkok Rules, which will be useful for human rights actors, penal reformers and detention monitors alike.  


Download the new publication, Guide to the rehabilitation and social reintegration of women prisoners: Implementation of the Bangkok Rules.

Read PRI/OSCE-ODIHR’s 2018 publication, Guidance Document on the Nelson Mandela Rules.

Learn more about how the incarceration of Indigenous Canada in PRI’s Global Prison Trends 2019.

Explore PRI’s other key resources, including on this website.

Learn more about the work of the Thailand Institute of Justice.