576 in jail even after end of terms
At least 576 inmates are serving additional days in different jails across the country due to the jail authorities' failure to take effective steps, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chairman Mizanur Rahman has claimed.
Of those inmates, some had served life-terms and some completed their sentences in 2010, Mizanur told reporters after visiting Dhaka Central Jail yesterday.
There are instances of inmates serving jail term despite securing bail, he added.
“These are violation of human rights,” he said, adding that the NHRC had collected a list of the inmates and would send it to the authorities concerned for necessary steps.
The NHRC boss, however, did not say how they made the list.
Senior Superintendent of Dhaka Central Jail Jahangir Kabir, however, refuted the allegation brought by Mizanur.
He said they follow procedure as per the Jail Code while releasing inmates and send documents to the home ministry as part of the process.
Mizanur shared his experience of the one-and-a-half-hour visit to the jail with reporters in front of the jail gate. He said the experience saddened him.
He said the purpose of his visit was to verify some allegations received by the NHRC about mismanagements in jail. Another reason for the visit, he said, was to see if there were any changes inside the jail amid the countrywide police crackdown.
“It is required to pay attention so that authoritarian attitude to inmates does not develop inside jail,” the NHRC chairman said.
He said he found a pregnant inmate who was not given breakfast even at 10:30am.
Jahangir, however, claimed that the woman was actually fasting and that she had her Sehri on time.
Mizanur said some inmates were accommodated in cells adjacent to toilets.
The state of the jail hospital was poor as well. The hospital rooms were crammed with patients and the bed sheets were filthy, he added.
“These were visible things. It won't be logical to talk about the unseen issues.”
He said he could have found more irregularities had he stayed there longer.
The NHRC boss, however, said the Dhaka Central Jail is packed with inmates three times more than its capacity, which could be a reason for the mismanagement.
Since the jail would be moved to Keraniganj soon, the authorities are apparently reluctant to improve the conditions there, he said.
Mizanur, however, said he did not find any “influence” of the countrywide crackdown inside the central jail.
As many as 7,328 inmates were in the jail as of yesterday, which is capable of accommodating around 2,600 inmates, he said, citing information from the jail authorities.
Mizanur also criticised Inspector General of Police AKM Shahidul Hoque who according to media reports said the NHRC chairman commented on the police crackdown on militants without being aware of the issue.
In a meeting in Chittagong on June 12, the IGP criticised Mizanur for issuing statements in the media expressing his fear of “arrest trade” by police during the crackdown.
Mizanur termed the IGP's comments “unacceptable” and “indecent”.
Admitting that they have some lacking in management, Senior Jail Superintendent Jahangir said this was due to the overcrowding of the jail.