Subscribe Here

Report: Taking lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic forward within closed institutions

12 April 2023

In 2020, following the outbreak of COVID-19, the NHC, together with People in Need and AFEW International, worked on implementing the EU COVID-19 Solidarity Programme for Eastern Partnership. The project aimed to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and contribute towards longer-term socio-economic resilience of vulnerable groups. Local civil society organisations (CSOs) play a central and crucial role in:

  • service delivery;
  • community mobilization;
  • awareness raising;
  • and policy engagement and advocacy

for the protection of human rights and civic freedoms during and in the post-pandemic environment. This report presents some of the main outcomes of the final phase of the larger project that aimed to build and strengthen the capacities of these organizations.

In particular, the report focuses on the results of the advocacy element, which aimed to strengthen the skills of CSOs working on topics around closed institutions on advocacy and awareness raising. Each of the ten CSOs based in Armenia, Georgia and Moldova had messages that aimed to improve the position of both those residing in closed institutions, their families and the staff. More specifically, the three main goals echoed by multiple organizations were:

  1. Ensuring the right to health for those in closed institutions, namely prisoners and mental health patients, for , prevention, vaccinations and other health issues where close contact is an issue;
  2. Improving staff training to better equip them with de-escalation methods, as conflicts were often exacerbated due to the pandemic;
  3. Recognizing the particularly vulnerable position of women in prison especially with regard to their healthcare.

Moving forward it is crucial that organizations combine efforts and join forces to advocate, as there is already a wealth of knowledge in terms of both data and good practices. For this reason, we hope to explore and promote further network building and information sharing regionally and globally.

The following organizations have contributed to the work presented here: Center for Legal Initiative, Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly Vanadzor, PEF for Freedom (Armenia); Alliance for Better Mental Health, Georgian Association for Women in Business and Union “Partnership for Equal Rights”, and Penal Reform International (Georgia); and Asociația Obștească ”AFI,” Moldovan Institute for Human Rights, and Positive Initiative (Moldova).

Read the full report here.