Nepal | May 30, 2020

House panel calls for making prisons human-friendly

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, September 22

A prison taskforce formed by the Social Justice and Human Rights Committee of the legislature-parliament has recommended to the government to increase daily allowance given to prisoners serving sentences.

According to the report of the seven-member task force led by Constituent Assembly member Panchkarna Rai, the daily allowance of Rs 45 was too little for inmates to meet even their basis needs. “The overall condition of prisons is very poor. The government should improve living conditions in the jails if it is to rehabilitate the prisoners. The conditions they live in may encourage them to repeat crimes once they are out of prisons. Therefore, time is running out for transforming prisons into correctional homes,” read the report.

It has also recommended the government to prioritize inmates with good conduct and senior citizens while granting amnesty to those who have already served 50 per cent of their jail terms.

“The government should also adopt an ‘open prison policy’ to make prisons less congested and transform them into correctional homes,” it said.

The government has acquired around 535 ropanis in Banke for the construction of an open prison with the capacity of over 5,000 persons. An open prison is a penal establishment where prisoners, who have served at least half their jail terms and have demonstrated good conduct, are allowed to serve their remaining term with minimal supervision.

As many as 54 prison buildings in the Kathmandu Valley and other districts were either destroyed or damaged in the April 25 earthquake and its subsequent aftershocks. Sixteen jailbirds, all males, were killed and 93 injured after the main shock reduced the Jagannath Dewal Prison in Kathmandu to rubble.

The task force has also asked the government to make proper arrangements for beds, medical facility and basic sanitation by making the prisons spacious and human-friendly.

Currently, prisons across the country with total capacity of 10,434 persons are housing more than 16,000 jailbirds. The country has 74 prisons in 72 districts. Bhaktapur, Bara and Dhanusha do not have any prison while Kathmandu and Dang have two prisons each.

A version of this article appears in print on September 23, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.

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