Shifting of the Central Jail
Improve conditions of other prisons too
We welcome the shifting of the Dhaka central Jail to Keraniganj in order to improve the facilities and living conditions of the inmates. The new facility which includes a hospital and residential units for prison staff will have two separate jails for male female inmates. Jail-1 which will house male prisoners will have a capacity of 4,590 prisoners.
This is a significant improvement on the overcrowded jail in Dhaka which accommodates more than 8,000 prisoners against a capacity of 2,600. It opens up the question of how to improve conditions in other jails at the district level across the country. Prisons in Bangladesh are governed by laws which date back to the 19th century as constituted by the British authorities. Human rights activists have long been advocating for prison reforms and for good reasons. The quality and quantity of food has always been a subject of much controversy while prisoners’ access to medical facilities remains scant. Drug trafficking, reportedly, is one of the main issues in the maintenance of law and order inside the prisons.
The government should remember that Bangladesh is committed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to treat inmates with dignity and respect, to segregate under-trial prisoners from the convicts, juvenile offenders from adults, and most importantly, bring them to trial as soon as possible.
Jails should be facilities where people get a second chance to reform themselves so that they can integrate into society, putting behind their criminal past. Prisons are part of the criminal justice system. As such if the conditions in jails are to be improved, we needto revisit the existing criminal justice system which often contributes to, among other things, overcrowding and other problems.