Nepal | September 28, 2020

Govt urged to save lives of jailbirds amid COVID-19

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The National Human Rights Commission has expressed serious concern about reported cases of COVID-19 among security personnel and jailbirds in various prisons.

Issuing a press statement today, the rights body said the outbreak of the coronavirus disease among some jailbirds in prisons had led to panic among their fellow prisoners and family members.

According to the NHRC, prisoners and security personnel in the Sundhara-based Central Jail and other prisons in Banke, Sunsari, Siraha and Parsa districts had tested positive for COVID-19.

The NHRC asked the Department of Prison Management about the condition of prisoners and security personnel in prisons across the country amid COVID-19 fears.

“Prisoners or inmates have urged the NHRC to take initiative for the protection of their lives after COV- ID-19 cases were confirmed in the prisons crammed with jailbirds, beyond their capacity. They have felt insecure and are living under constant panic. The entry of new members into prison and taking any jailbird to hospital for medical treatment have increased chances of COV- ID-19 infection,” warned the rights body.

The NHRC has urged the government to take necessary precautionary measures against the infection among jailbirds and police personnel in prison, by keeping new members of any jail in isolation for a certain period and allowing them inside the prison only after they tested negative for COVID-19.

The DoPM claimed that it had been adopting safety measures against the spread of COVID-19 in prisons.

The country has 72 prisons, which are overcrowded. Currently, there are more than 24,000 jailbirds, including 1,500 women. They are either convicted of various crimes or are awaiting the final verdict of the concerned courts. The DoPM said handwashing facilities and other preventive measures like physical and social distancing were enhanced in the prisons.

Recently, the World Health Organisation had warned that prisons around the world would report “huge mortality rates” from COVID-19 for want of immediate actions, including screening for the disease.

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