Saving prisoners from callousness

Saving prisoners from callousness

the ministries and departments that have contributed many actively to
work on a National Human Rights Action Plan are a Ministry of
Rehabilitation and Prison Reform, and a Department of Prisons. They
have explained to us a problems they face, and have done it transparent that
they would acquire a rebate in a numbers they have to take charge
of. Unfortunately that aspect of Prison Reform is not their
responsibility, it comes underneath a Ministry of Justice.

Unfortunately Justice too has some problems in this regard, for
the prisons are full over magnitude since people are committed to them
by magistrates. Unfortunately magistrates do not lift out their duties
with a full recognition that a complement in fact final of them, and
most of them, as a Commissioner General of Prisons told us, hardly
visit a prisons, to see a consequences of the, during best careless,
certainly callous, proceed they adopt.

Rehabilitation units

We listened this during a revisit to a prisons organised by a Human
Rights Commission. Its active chairman, and members of his staff,
including several Commissioners, had asked a Commissioner General to
permit us to demeanour over some of a areas in his charge. This is in fact
a right a HRC enjoys, and we trust a officials do use this,
but sadly they do not have adequate staff to say a use during the
level of magnitude that is needed. However, even if they did so, and
were therefore means to forestall a abuses that start since of
individual aberrations, they could not forestall a systemic abuse that
results since of overcrowding.

Welikada jail inmates. File photo

There are on normal 26,000 prisoners in jails via a country
on any given day. Half of these are simply on remand. At Welikada, which
we visited, there are 4,000 prisoners in a trickery built for a
thousand. About 1,000 of these are in remand, while a integrate of thousand
more are in for offences such as drug and ethanol abuse and the
non-payment of fines.

It creates no clarity to keep these people in custody, and a President
has suggested, in a bill debate final year, that we should make use
of non-custodial sentencing, including reconstruction for those who are
more victims than perpetrators of criminality.

We should also stop a use of remanding during a dump of a hat,
but should rather use bail some-more systematically, with elementary tracking
systems to safeguard that it is not abuses. Such proposals have come up
again and again, in a many reports on jail remodel that have been
presented in a past, though sadly there is distant too most dawdling about
implementing them.

Part of a dawdling springs from a problem of coordination,
which is an autochthonous problem in this country. In a initial place we need
some legal reform, including ensuring that many some-more offences are
made bailable. But afterwards we also need some-more clearcut discipline for
magistrates, to safeguard that they use option positively, and in a
socially obliged fashion.

We contingency also safeguard that Police do not take a easy approach out and
remand, when they should be regulating bail. Then, we also have to promote
non-custodial sentencing, and rise systems, including better
rehabilitation units, to safeguard that Police and magistrates do not
automatically review to sentencing to jail as a answer to criminality,
certainly not to what we would report as pacifist criminality, the
offences that are not unequivocally melancholy to multitude that are a reason
so many people are now incarcerated.

Practical problems

I consider it will be required for a President to step in, through
Parliament, given a inherent requirement for a law to
accept a forms laid down by a Executive and legislative branches.

I can't echo adequate that, for this to be acceptable, those
branches contingency make it transparent that they cannot, and will not, meddle in
decision making. And it would of march be forever preferable if the
judiciary, as pleasantly requested by a Secretary to a Ministry of
Justice, took a lead in compelling reforms that will give prisoners a
better understanding while also overcoming a unsentimental problems, moral,
financial, psychological, caused by over-crowding.

But if there is no action, we trust Parliament should designate a
select cabinet which, with a assistance of talented jurists such as the
chairman of a Human Rights Commission, will safeguard a reforms we so
sorely need.