Learning from each other around the world

Indonesia has a successful existing prison ‘pre-release programme’ in Banceuy Prison in Bandung where prisoners are detained on drug-related offences. The programme aims to reduce the risk of drug use on release, and to reduce stigma and discrimination from prison staff.

Rumah Cemara, the Alliance Linking Organisation in Indonesia provides information on HIV prevention for all inmates, established a peer support group for HIV-positive inmates, trained ten prison staff every quarter.

Following a training event, Rumah Cemara has added one-to-one counselling to its programme for prisoners. The training was part of an exchange between countries as part of the Community Action on Harm Reduction (CAHR) programme and brought the Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) and Rumah Cemara in Indonesia together, providing an opportunity to learn from each other.

Jenithaa Santhira, CAHR manager in Malaysia, was inspired by the possibilities: “Through the training and Rumah Cemara’s experience we saw how it’s possible to establish a sustainable prison-based programme by involving prison officials and the government department,” she said.

MAC is no stranger to reaching marginalised groups; providing methadone treatment from a mosque is just one of many notable successes. MAC will build on its existing dialogue with the Malaysia Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM) to discuss the possibilities of engaging current and ex-prisoners, including arranging a prison site visit for the head of JAKIM.