The Ministry of Home Affairs has forwarded a 'Rapid Monitoring Report on Prison Condition' conducted by the National Human Rights Commission to the Department of Prison Management for implementation.

Recently, the NHRC had conducted monitoring to take stock of the situation of human rights of detainees and prisoners in detention centres and the prisons located in Kathmandu and Lalitpur. Similarly, the rights body had conducted on-site monitoring of prisons in 28 districts. The monitoring report had made a 13-point recommendation to improve the condition of prisons and human rights of inmates.

Joint Secretary Chakra Bahadur Budha, spokesperson at the MoHA, said the report was sent to the DoPM for implementations of recommendations that fall under its jurisdiction.

The report had urged the Government of Nepal to draft and implement a unified guideline to ensure the safety of detainees and prisoners in all the prison houses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly, the authorities concerned have been told to immediately arrange necessary budget for management of essential materials such as masks, sanitisers, gloves, face shields, soap, thermal gun, PPE sets, etc. to prevent the risk of virus infection among inmates, security personnel and staffers inside prison houses.

The authorities were also told to arrange necessary budget for management of quarantine and isolation wards inside prison houses.

"Precautionary measures to reduce the risk of infection among the inmates such as hand sanitisers, nutritious food, water, toilet facilities, and health guidelines set by World Health Organisation have not been implemented due to lack of budget. So, the government should immediately arrange necessary budget for this purpose," reads the report.

Most of the prisons are overcrowded and the number of inmates have been increasing, some prisons do not even have vehicles. Very few vehicles are in operation in many prison houses and budget for vehicular maintenance is not adequate. "The government must allocate enough budget for prison houses as there is a problem of taking inmates to the hospital, court and quasi-judicial bodies on time," it said.

The rights body has urged the government to arrange health workers for effective management of health care.

"Immediately implement the system of exemption from punishment in accordance with the law to protect the right to life of senior citizens and other chronically ill patients in prisons and reconstruct prisons that are very old, dilapidated and damaged by the 2015 earthquakes," it said.

A version of this article appears in the print on February 4, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.