Govt plans overhaul of prisons

  • There are 74 prisons housing over 19,000 inmates, including 1,000 foreigners, in 72 districts

Kathmandu, July 2

The government is planning to provide medicines and health facilities equal to that given to sub-health posts to 63 prisons with a capacity of up to 500 jailbirds.

According to Home Administration Reform Roadmap, 2017 recently unveiled by Minister for Home Affairs Janardan Sharma, the medicines and health facilities will be used for medical care of jailbirds. Similarly, as many as 11 prisons with a capacity of above 500 jailbirds will get such facilities equal to that of health posts.

There are 74 prisons housing over 19,000 inmates, including 1,000 foreigners, in 72 districts, although they have the capacity of accommodating only 10,500 inmates. Bhaktapur, Bara and Dhanusha districts do not have any prison while Kathmandu and Dang have two prisons each.

Most of Nepalis and foreigners being held in the ‘correctional’ facilities suffer higher rate of illness compared to the general population. Various studies conducted in the past had recommended to the concerned authorities to improve the situation, both for prisoners and personnel working in the prisons, but in vain.

According to a study, prison facilities range from poor to dilapidated; the prisons are overcrowded and usually lack even minimum amenities.

“The government will also strengthen the security of all prisons by installing CCTV cameras and making an arrangement of power backup system for power supply round-the-clock,” read the roadmap.

Similarly, the government has decided to increase the daily allowance of prisoners and inmates, including minors and lactating mothers, in line with the inflation rate by making an amendment to the existing Prison Regulation.

Prisoners in Nepal are not just living in overcrowded prisons that utterly lack basic facilities but also have been making do with a pittance a daily allowance of Rs 45 and 700 grams of rice. It has not been increased since 2006. .

In 2005, based on its study reports, National Human Rights Commission had recommended to the government to upgrade existing amenities of the prisons and guarantee basic human rights, including sanitation, room space, quality food and regular health check-ups. But the government has not heeded to pressure from rights groups, not to mention National Human Rights Commission and the Supreme Court.