Improved rights for prisoners through Parole System

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  • The Ministry of Home Affairs is drafting a Probation Bill, taking a step towards putting in place a Parole System in attempt to solve the problem of over population in the nation’s prisons.
    The bill reflects the government’s pragmatic approach to reduce the chronic overcrowding in its prisons.
    There are 93 prisons and labour camps in Myanmar, including 42 prisons, five jails, 18 labour camps and 30 agricultural and livestock production camps under the Correctional Department of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
    Those held in overcrowded prisons have only limited access to healthcare services. Therefore, they are highly susceptible to communicable diseases, such as tuberculosis, HIV, hepatitis and cholera.
    In Myanmar’s prisons, overcrowding is the result of high levels of selling and using drugs, with nearly half of Myanmar’s 65,000-70,000 prisoners serving sentences related to drug offences, according to statistics released by the 3MDG Fund last year.
    Overcrowding in prisons is a type of violation of the human rights of prisoners. The Parole System used in other countries would solve this problem and reduce the high social and financial costs of incarceration.
    This move comes after the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Home Affairs submitted the problems in the prisons to the President.
    The issue was also brought before the Hluttaw recently, with a lawmaker asking the Home Affairs Ministry whether it had a plan to put in place a Parole System, since the prisons were overcrowded.
    If successful, the parole system could lead to improvements to meet the minimum standards of health, food, potable water, accommodation, sanitation and hygiene in the nation’s prisons.
    Out of 10 chapters of the Probation Bill, seven have been approved. The remaining chapters, 6, 7 and 8, are being discussed with the Union Supreme Court and Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement. After all chapters are approved by departments concerned, the Ministry of Home Affairs will seek remarks from the Union Attorney-General about the bill and will take steps to submit the bill so it might become a law.
    The proposed reform will ensure sustainable and long-term solutions to prison overcrowding, reducing the high social and financial costs of incarceration.
    We welcome the spirit behind the Probation Bill, believing that the law will help the prison system move towards the rehabilitation which treats inmates humanely.
    We are confident that the problem of overcrowding will be addressed soon.
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