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Strengthening the National Penitentiary System in Line with the International and European Standards in North Macedonia

Project facts

  • Funder: NL EVD International
  • Partner(s): Custodial Institutions Agency (DJI), Directorate of Prison Administration, Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Macedonia
  • Project period: 2009 – 2010
  • For information mail to:

The Republic of North Macedonia is party to European conventions regarding the treatment of inmates which involve a commitment to certain standards when it comes to prison management. The Macedonian Directorate for the Execution of Sanctions of the Ministry of Justice wants to develop towards a modern penitentiary system in line with these standards. The know-how of EU member states, such as the Netherlands, can be of great value to North Macedonian institutions involved in the development and implementation of prison management policies.

This project was conceived to strengthen the Macedonian prison system, through the introduction of risk assessment and the improvement of cooperation between treatment and security staff. To achieve this goal, the project was designed to work on two levels. It aimed to foster bilateral relations between the relevant institutions in North Macedonia and the Netherlands, and to learn from successful policy practises based on the Dutch experience. At the same time, it focussed on achieving some visible improvements in two pilot prisons, by training individual staff members.

At the start of the project, contacts were established between the North Macedonian Directorate and the Custodial Institutions Agency. The contact improved understanding of each other’s local situation and of the challenges in the prison system in both countries. A number of concerns of the Directorate were addressed in two pilot projects with the Idrizovo and Stip prisons, where staff from the security and resocialisation departments participated in trainings. The pilots had a clear positive effect, as the staff brought what they learnt during the trainings into practice on the work floor. The most visible improvements were the adoption of weekly meetings, timely reporting and an improved monitoring system. Furthermore, the Ministers of Justice of both countries signed a declaration of intent to intensify the cooperation concerning the prison system as a result of this project. This will hopefully spread the results of the project further from the pilot prisons through the Macedonian prison system. For this reason, Dutch training materials were translated and adapted to the Macedonian situation at the end of the project. The staff members who were trained during the project can use these materials to develop a training programme for their colleagues.

New priority areas had already been identified during the project, and they were made explicit by the Directorate and trainers in the final conference. As a result of this, a new MATRA project ‘Management capacity building in the North Macedonian prison service‘ was set up and approved by the Netherlands Embassy.