Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, October 22nd, 2018

Overcrowded Prisons Violation of Human Rights

Inmates of Bamiyan provincial prison are kept in crowded rooms, with poor facilities. In this harsh winter, prisoners are unable to sleep these nights. Prisoners are kept in the cells more than double of the space capacity. According to a report by Pajhwok, 39 people are kept in a cell for 20 people. The officials of the provincial prison are saying to resolve the problem by erecting new tent-cells. Families of the inmates have said the prisoners cannot live in tents in the freezing nights of Bamiyan when temperature goes to -35 to -45 Celsius in winter.

Women and children are kept in similar conditions in different cells of the same prison. Lack of media attention has been a reason this issue has gone unnoticed, and concerned authorities not bothering to take action.

Overcrowded cells in prisons are a problem in many parts of the country. There have been violent riots by inmates on this issue previously. But the relevant departments of the Interior and Justice ministries have not taken steps to resolve this issue. In Balkh in 2010, prisoners were on hunger strike for several days saying living in the overcrowded cells with no facilities is intolerable.

These nights when the temperatures already falls below minus, prisoners sleep inside the rooms, and they complain about being unable to fall asleep when there is not enough space for all. The nature of overcrowded prisons is that inmates do not complain about this issue in summer, when they can sleep outside their cells or rooms, but the freezing winter makes life unbearable for them. Thus the government has not bothered to resolve this issue.

For instance, the provincial prison in Balkh is 2,000 square-metre housing about a thousand inmates. The building has 18 rooms including administrative offices, cells and a kitchen. Normally, it is impossible to stuff 50 people in one room with capacity of 20 persons, but it is the situation in many prisons of Afghanistan.

The heigenic situation is very poor causing disease. There have been previous reports of deaths of inmates caused by epidemic disease due to lack of cleanliness and hygienic facilities.

A life where 100 people are forced to sleep in a room with capacity of 25-30 persons is unbearable and miserable at its worst. It's a severe violation of the human rights. The relevant authorities must take immediate notice of the complains of prisoners in Bamiyan and ensure steps to resolve the problems.