World, Asia - Pacific

Bangladesh starts releasing prisoners amid pandemic

Over 2,800 prisoners convicted of minor offences to be released to prevent widespread of virus in overcrowded prisons

03.05.2020
Bangladesh starts releasing prisoners amid pandemic FILE PHOTO

By SM Najmus Sakib

DHAKA, Bangladesh

Bangladesh has started releasing prisoners convicted of minor offences as a precautionary action to control infection among the overcrowded prisons in the country, said an official on Sunday.

Inspector General of Prisons Brigadier General Mustafa Kamal Pasha told Anadolu Agency: “The jail authority will release 2,884 prisoners across the country in line with the government’s decision on it. And, the releasing started on Saturday and we are hoping that the process would have been completed by this week.”

“Considering the contradiction between number of prisoners and accommodation availability in jails, we have decided to free some prisoners convicted [in courts] of minor offences,” he added.

The South Asian country on Sunday released as many as 385 prisoners from the Dhaka Central Jail and some outside Dhaka jails while the initiative started on Saturday releasing few of them who were serving jail terms from three months to one year.

Earlier, the Home Ministry upon discussions with the Law Ministry took the decision to free some prisoners to curb the outbreak in jails amid experts’ call to do so.

The decision come as per the earlier recommendation of releasing around 5,000 prisoners under three categories and stages, and it was the first stage and category.

According to the prison authority, there are 68 jails that are currently accommodating around 89,000 prisoners with capacity of only 41,244 inmates across the country.

Meanwhile, some 19 guards at the central jail hospital tested positive for the novel coronavirus as of Sunday, the official confirmed, saying that they might have been infected via patients at hospitals.

Bangladesh reported its first prison case of the virus on April 21 after a guard at Dhaka Central Jail tested positive for COVID-19 and was admitted to a hospital.

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