Speaker Mahara concerned about plight of jailbirds

Media reports and various studies have painted a bleak picture ofprisons in the country

Kathmandu, August 4

Speaker of the House of Representatives Krishna Bahadur Mahara has expressed serious concern about dilapidated infrastructures of prisons.

Addressing a programme organised by lawmakers of the HoR here today to discuss prison reforms and promotion of human rights of the jailbirds, he said the conditions of prisons in the country were not satisfactory.

“Media reports and various studies have painted a bleak picture of prison cells,” he added.

“Physical infrastructures of prisons are poor. Jailbirds have been denied essential services which are guaranteed by the constitution. The number jailbirds is nearly double the capacity of the prisons,” Mahara said.

He urged the government and the concerned authorities to pay due heed to the plight of the prisoners by treating them humanely. “There is an utmost need to provide for a provision of placing the jailbirds separately on the basis of crimes they have committed. The government should put mentally ill inmates in a prison with mental health services,” he suggested.

Speaker Mahara also stressed the need to implement the concept of ‘open prison’ to ease the pressure of jailbirds in the already crowded prisons.

“Prisons should not be turned into a factory which produces criminals and mental patients by only detaining the jailbirds. Prisons should be developed as correctional and skill development centres, and houses of repentance to encourage them to develop positive thinking,” he warned. An open prison is a penal establishment where prisoners, who have served at least half their jail term and have demonstrated good conduct, are trusted to do their time with minimal supervision.

Speaker Mahara urged the lawmakers to make timely amendments to the Prison Act and Rules in a manner to bring about positive changes in the conduct and mindset of jailbirds so that they could re-integrate into society once they leave prisons after serving the sentence.

Speaker Mahara also said that he was committed to extending full support to any initiative for promotion of human rights of the prisoners and proper management of prison facilities at the policy-making level.

Around 19,000 people are living in as many as 74 prisons with the capacity of around 11,000 persons. Jailbirds have also been denied sports and entertainment materials, skill training and adequate textbooks for formal education, according to the National Human Rights Commission.