Thursday, 21 October, 2021
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NHRC's recommendation to protect inmates from virus



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By A Staff Reporter
Kathmandu, Oct/ 21: National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has urged the government to implement 13-point recommendations, which focus on the improvements in conditions of jails in order to protect inmates from COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently, Sudip Pathak-led team of the commission visited prisons in the seven states to take stock of the health conditions of inmates. Issuing a statement, the commission has recommended the government to take precautionary measures at the earliest, to allocate budget for essential items such as masks, sanitizer, gloves, face shield, soap, thermometer and personal protective equipment (PPE), among others, to protect jailbirds, security personnel and staffs from the pandemic.
Noting the lack of space around existing prisons for setting up quarantine and isolation facilities, which has made social distancing difficult to practice, the commission has asked the government to set up those infrastructures and arrangements to contain the pandemic.
Prisons across the country have been failing to meet the health protocols set by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the commission has found. Moreover, it has asked the government to increase the current daily livelihood allowance of inmates (Rs. 60), which is not sufficient to meet the health protocols.
Similarly, the rights watchdog has asked the government to ensure availability of PPE and vehicles in all prisons so that inmates can be ferried to hospitals, courts and semi-judicial bodies in time.
Furthermore, it has recommended the government to fill-in the vacant posts of health workers in prisons, to promptly make arrangements for treating the infected inmates, to release convicted senior citizens and people with pre-existing health conditions to safeguard their right to live, to make their medicines accessible and keep them separate from other jailbirds, to make COVID-19 tests mandatory for the new jailbirds and for transferred staffs and security personnel, and to conduct periodic COVID-19 tests in jails.
It further recommended the government to keep the convicted senior citizens with chronic illness and females in the prisons of their respective districts.
Additionally, it has asked the government to implement the verdict of the Supreme Court (SC), to immediately release or reduce jail terms of inmates living with vulnerable conditions in view of the rising COVID-19 cases in prisons.
The SC has ordered the government to prioritise children, pregnant women, women with newborns and people with pre-existing health conditions while releasing or reducing their jail terms.