Cruel, inhuman prison condition

15th February, 2019 09:47:18 printer

This daily yesterday carried a damning report depicting horrible and inhuman condition in Dhaka central jail, which can only evoke shock and awe. The report was based on one particular jail, but we have no reason to believe that the situation in other prisons is better.

After going through the report one may think that the authorities concerned have probably forgotten one simple fact, that prisoners are people too! If not so then why prisoners are being treated so badly, subjected to shocking physical and sexual harassment, exploitation and deprivation of basic human needs? Not even cattle should live like that!

Many of the inmates were caught for committing crimes and were incarcerated so that they can come out clean. In that process the prisons are supposed to provide correctional facilities. Unfortunately, our existing prison condition is far from conducive and may well turn bad people worse. Moreover, a large number of prisoners who are subject to pre-trial detention may not have committed any crimes. But they too are receiving the same treatment as convicted criminals.

As the report informs, prisons are a cash cow for a section of corrupt jail officials who, in collaboration with some inside and outside criminals, smuggle drugs into prison cells. Not only illicit drugs, but also most of the government facilities for inmates like food, sleeping space, hospital bed and even toilet facility are traded inside jail. Those who cannot or are unwilling to pay are made to go through unbearably bad condition so that they are forced to buy a “good deal.” The recent arrest of a jailor of the Chittagong Central Jail with Tk 44 lakh cash and substantial amount of narcotics speak volumes about corruption inside prisons.

This gross violation of human rights of prisoners and illegal activities of corrupt jail officials must be stopped. The jail officials who are in hand in glove with criminals must be identified and held accountable. More transparency and accountability are the only way to reassure us that the rule of law is being upheld inside prison.