The Seimas Ombudsman and the Minister of Justice discussed issues related to HIV prevention in penitentiaries

2 March 2017

A. NormantasThe Seimas Ombudsman Mr. Augustinas Normantas and the Minister of Justice Ms. Milda Vainiutė together with the representatives of Prison Department and the Ministry of Health have discussed possible ways to halt the spread of HIV in correctional institutions.

During the meeting, the Seimas Ombudsman noted that not only barriers to prevent drug entering prisons should be strengthened but also measures impeding the spread of HIV in penitentiaries should be fully implemented.

“Present plan does not encompass measures recommended by World Health Organization (WHO), which include education of convicts, voluntary counselling and testing for HIV and dissemination of condoms. Furthermore, a drug addiction treatment, as well as treatment for HIV-positive ones, should be provided too”, noted Mr. Normantas.

The representatives of the Ministry of Health supported the position of the Seimas Ombudsman by proposing the Prison Department to supplement the action plan aiming at HIV prevention in correctional facilities with measures recommended by WHO.

In the opinion of Ms. Vainiūtė, the renovation of dormitory by rearranging it into cells will positively contribute to HIV prevention. Furthermore, trained dogs to detect drugs and psychotropic substances will be used for inspections of convicts returning from visits with relatives.  

“Management of the spread of HIV infection is relevant not only to the places of detention; the majority of convicted persons bring the virus with them from freedom. It is, therefore, necessary not only to reinforce searches to detect drugs but also to enhance application of educational programs taking the experience from other countries”, noted the Minister of Justice.

The Ministry of Justice has submitted amendments to the Statute of Prison Department, which provide for an increase in salaries of officers. It is expected that this will encourage more people, especially young generation, to choose prison officer’s profession and will attract more motivated employees.