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Baking as a means of empowerment: A new EULEX and UNMIK-supported bakery at the Lipjan/Lipljan Correctional Center for Women

27 July 2021

The Kosovo Deputy Minister of Justice, Blerim Sallahu, the Acting General Director of the Kosovo Correctional Service (KCS), Rasim Selmani, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for UNMIK, Barrie Freeman, the Head of EULEX’s Correctional Unit, Ritva Vahakoski, and other representatives of Kosovo and international organizations participated in the official inauguration of a bakery at the Lipjan/Lipljan Correctional Center for Women on 27 July 2021.

The bakery, which was established thanks to the donations of EULEX and UNMIK, aims at empowering women who are serving their sentence at the Lipjan/Lipljan Correctional Center by teaching them how to run a bakery and how to make bread and pastries. Through this project, the sentenced persons will have an opportunity to develop their baking skills and become certified in this field, which will improve their access to employment opportunities once they are released. 

Thanking the donors, Kosovo’s Deputy Justice Minister said: “The inauguration of this bakery also marks the beginning of work for a significant number of female convicts in this facility. The Ministry of Justice is committed to supporting such activities which have an impact on the rehabilitation and reintegration of persons deprived of their liberty, and which ensure economic sustainability of correctional facilities. Through the functionalization and increase of the capacities of Economy Units within the correctional facilities, the KCS will continue to engage an increasing number of convicts to achieve this goal.”

Speaking about the importance of the project, the Acting General Director of the KCS said: “This contribution will serve the institution and will also have an impact on the activities of female prisoners who will be working in the bakery. They will prepare themselves for the post-penitentiary life by being ready to continue with their profession. The KCS together with its partners will continue to fulfil its mission, which is the rehabilitation and resocialization of prisoners, and this investment shows our joint commitment.”

“This bakery is a tangible example of the commitment of the United Nations to the Nelson Mandela Rules, which are grounded in the belief that an effective prison system must provide safe incarceration of inmates in an environment that promotes their rehabilitation and reentry into productive civilian life,” the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for UNMIK, Barrie Freeman, said.

The Head of EULEX’s Correctional Unit, Ritva Vahakoski, noted: “This project is centered on the idea that sentenced persons can acquire baking skills and hands-on experience, which will help them find a job within the culinary industry after their release. This kind of work gives people a purpose and a sense of achievement and is a key mechanism to prevent recidivism.” 

Following the traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony, the guests had the chance to see the fully-equipped bakery, which is expected to produce bread and pastries for the Lipjan/Lipljan Correctional Center and three more correctional facilities. In addition to the baked goods, the prisoners in different correctional facilities in Kosovo also cultivate fruits and vegetables and produce various items, including plastic bags, face masks and toilet paper. These products cover the needs of various correctional facilities, resulting in significant budget savings for the KCS. 

Through its Correctional Unit, EULEX supports the KCS in its efforts to facilitate the reintegration and resocialization of sentenced persons in the society. The Mission also supports the KCS’s efforts to develop a professional senior management team through monitoring, mentoring and advising. 

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