I spoke to Jessica Abels, to find out more about how Prisoners Abroad’s efforts to ensure that everyone in our society has their human rights protected.
Why was Prisoners Abroad set up and why are you interested in Blog Action Day?
For 35 years we’ve been the only charity caring for the welfare of Britons and their families during and after imprisonment overseas. We believe no person in prison – regardless of guilt or innocence – should suffer conditions threatening their life or health.
Each year we provide survival grants, reading materials and emotional support to more than 1700 people imprisoned in over 80 countries. For families we offer translation services and advice on foreign prison systems, travel assistance and group support days throughout the UK. And when people are released back to the UK, our resettlement service helps them get back on their feet and make a new start.
As an organisation that fights for the basic human rights of an often rejected and isolated group of people, we’re excited to partner with Blog Action Day this year and join its global conversation on human rights.
What is your role, where are you based and what do you inspires you most about your work?
I’m the Digital Communications Officer based in London, so I’m the first point of contact for our website and social media channels. I’m most inspired by the stories I hear from people we’re helping around the world. Often they’re enduring years of terrible conditions very far from home, in a prison system that is chaotic, confusing and sometimes extremely violent. They face enormous challenges trying to obtain daily necessities and fight for survival, but so many face it with a sense of determination and hope.
What do Human Rights mean to Prisoners Abroad ?
The UN’s Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners call for all people in prison to be treated with humanity and respect due to their inherent dignity and value as human beings. For many people we help, conditions fall far short of the basic levels that should be the right of anyone, whether held on remand or convicted of a crime. Access to clean water, basic nutrition and hygiene and an existence free from cruel or degrading treatment should be the fundamental rights for prisoners in any country.
Our casework team ensures that these needs are met via regular correspondence and survival grants, and that if mistreatment does take place people have an advocate who can give them a voice beyond prison walls.
How can people get involved in Prisoners Abroad or the broader issues of Prisoners Rights?
Join with us and show your support for prisoners’ human rights on our Facebook page or by signing up for our newsletter at www.prisonersabroad.org.uk. And to find out about everything from charity runs to volunteer translating and book donations, visit www.prisonersabroad.org.uk/get-involved.
What are your suggestions or ideas for Blog Action Day participants to use in their Blog Action Day posts?
Some ideas I can suggest for Blog Action Day participants to consider are:
- Do people in prison deserve human rights?
- Is the idea of language isolation, or solitary linguistic confinement, a form of torture?
- How does the idea of human rights vary in prisons around the world?
- Does solitary confinement violate a person’s human rights?
Resources to help you meet :
- The UN’s Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners
- Kate Willmott, Human Rights Adviser to the British Foreign and Commonwealth office and Prisoners Abroad, on human rights issues affecting prisoners around the world
- Video: Meet the people we help
If people want to find out more about Prisoners Abroad where do they go?