Nepal | July 02, 2020

EDITORIAL: Prison management

The Himalayan Times
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There is a need of overhauling the prison management which can be achieved if the government takes up this issue seriously

Although the National Human Rights Commission had recommended way back in 2005 to upgrade the amenities for prisoners nothing substantial has been done about it. Apart from providing the required  facilities in prisons the basic human rights such as sanitation, room space, quality food and also regular check up of health should have been in place. Yet successive governments had done nothing substantive about this since 2006. The prisoners are still being provided a meager daily allowance of Rs. 45 and 700 grams of rice. Thus, the decision taken by the government to periodically hike the daily allowance for the inmates, including minors and lactating mothers, and keeping up with the inflation by making amendments to the prevalent Prison Regulation should be seen as positive.

Moreover, according to the Home Administration Reform Roadmap, 2017 the government is mooting providing medicines and health facilities at par to what is presently being dispensed to sub-health posts to 63 prisons hosting 500 inmates. Among other things, as many as 11 prisons with the capacity of above 500 jailbirds would be provided the same facilities. At present most of the prisons are overcrowded. The country has 74 prisons accommodating 19,000 inmates of whom 1000 are foreigners in 72 districts. These prisons can house only 10,500 prisoners. Kathmandu and Dang have two prisons each while there are no prisons in Bhaktapur, Bara and Dhanusha districts. More prisoners both foreigners and Nepalis are found to be suffering from various illnesses than the general population. The conditions of the prisons are poor and dilapidated. In the aftermath of the major earthquake in 2015, many buildings of prisons had collapsed, and they are yet to be repaired. The government should take urgent steps to build more prisons as they do not meet the present requirements.

The security in all the prisons would also be enhanced through the installation of CCTV cameras with the provision for a power backup system. The government appears committed this time around to improve the conditions of prisons as the situations in prisons are getting worse with the incarceration of more criminals as they are not built to accommodate all of them. It is not only the prisoners who are suffering but also the personnel working in the jails. Providing the prisoners with medicines and health care would go a long way to see to it that they are living in a decent manner. More studies should be conducted to recommend the government and the concerned authorities to ameliorate the living conditions of the prisoners by providing them with the basic necessities. Prisons should also be regarded as ‘correctional’ facilities where prisoners learn to reform themselves and also repent. Once they serve their term, the prisoners should be taught and encouraged to lead respectable lives and no longer resort to criminal activities of various sorts. It is expected that the roadmap will succeed if it is implemented in the earnest. There should be no delay considering the hideous lives the prisoners are leading. There is a need of overhauling the prison management which can be achieved if the government takes up this issue seriously.

Driving licence

The Metropolitan Traffic Police Division (MTPD) is mulling over introducing an “on-road-driving-test” to make the driving licence more effective and practical. The MTPD is preparing for the new traffic rules in coordination with the Department of Transport Management for which a joint committee has been formed to work out the plan in detail. The new rules will be applicable to all types of vehicles.

During the on-road driving test, the traffic police will evaluate overall skills of a person seeking the driving licence, including the understanding of traffic signs and rules of roads. The traffic police believe that the on-road driving test will be more effective than the existing practice of taking exams on the trial ground. One has to go through the written, vehicle handling test, traffic awareness class and road driving test. A driving licence seeker will be deemed ineligible if s/he fails the on-road driving test, the final test before issuing a licence. The new rules under consideration are a welcome step. There are high chances that the accompanying authority may use his/her discretion as the licence seeker may not be able to fulfill all requirements required by the rules.

A version of this article appears in print on July 04, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.

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