POST TIME: 1 July, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 1 July, 2018 06:57:40 PM
Country’s exceedingly overcrowded jails

Country’s exceedingly overcrowded jails

Prisoners’ human rights are being violated as the existing number of jails in the country could not contain the far greater number of prisoners specially in the wake of the ongoing drive against the drug peddlers. According to a report published in this newspaper yesterday, the accommodation capacity of the country’s 68 jails is 36,614 prisoners, but a total of 83,350 prisoners—an outrageously great number compared to the capacity—is presently residing in these jails. Of the total prisoners, 35,815 have been put behind bars on the charge of drug-related cases.

All prisoners—guilty or not—are human beings and they must not be huddled like cattle or beasts. They have their certain human rights. Moreover, if after disposal of relevant cases for which these people are detained, they are proved innocent and in that case how could the state compensate an innocent person’s inhuman living inside a jail?

 Society needs prisons. The lesser number of prisoners in a society means the greater civilization in that society. The state that puts behind bars people on the charge of various crimes represents the state’s civilized section of people and they cannot be cruel to the detained people. If they do it, it is anathema to the very concept of civilization itself.

That is why all detained people or prisoners have certain internationally recognised human rights and the state of Bangladesh must ensure that these rights are upheld in their words and spirit. Criminals are kept in jail because they evidently abuse their freedom by harming others or violating the laws of the state, and jailing should only mean infringing their right to freedom, as punishment. His other rights as human beings should remain intact under any circumstances.

That is why jails in their more humane sense are defined as correction centres and the relevant authorities in Bangladesh must try to raise prisons to the level of places of rectification, not jamming a cell of jails by 20 prisoners when it is supposed to hold only four. But this is exactly what is happening now in jails in the country’s frontier districts where prisoners are reportedly overcrowded well above 400 percent-500 percent of their capacities.

To uphold the detained people’s human rights, apart from increasing the capacity of jails, the government must ensure that arrests are not being made without specific allegations and courts are granting bail to prisoners who genuinely deserve it and are swiftly disposing of cases.