There are immense problems the government has to deal with. For many there would be zero chance of improvement in the situation on ground. However, there is a ray of hope that the nation should gaze at to move forward with zeal and enthusiasm. Decision of the chief executive officer to introduce reforms in the country’s prisons system is a praise-worthy step and gives hope to the hopeless prisoners. Abdullah Abdullah the other day ordered the relevant authorities to release the inmates who are languishing in the prisons despite completion of the imprisonment term. Chairing a meeting of the High Council on Prisons and Rehabilitation Centers, the chief executive officer ordered Ministry of Interior to provide healthcare services to the prisoners. Currently, the public health ministry is providing this service which had been termed unsatisfactory times and again by inmates.
Sketching a gloomy picture in the meeting, Interior Minister Noorul Haq Ulumi expressed serious concerns over capacity of prisons which are overcrowded and prisoners don’t have proper places to sleep. Lack of sufficient budget, health facilities and jail officials were the other key challenges pointed out by the interior minister.
Taking notice of the serious issue which many had noticed but none took serious, is an indicator that the chief executive is pursuing his policy of reforms in letter and spirit. However, there are more to do because the prisoners are going through tough time. As a matter of fact the prisons are producing serious criminals instead of rehabilitating the people behind bars. There is need for substantial and immediate reforms in the prisons system to rehabilitate inmates and make them useful citizens. There is no denial to the fact that most of the people who were jailed for minor crimes are now involved in serious crimes such as murders, robbery, kidnapping and smuggling. Afghan prisons are too punitive and fail to educate inmates and change their mindset for uplift of the society. Environment of the country’s prisons are replete with aggressive behaviors. Pro-social behaviors should be reinforced in systematic way to reduce aggression.
Moreover, more prisons should be built to provide enough space to the inmates to live properly and engage in healthy activities such as sports and art. Prisons are congested. Alone in the Pul-e-Charkhi Central Prison more than 7,000 people are kept though it was not built for so many prisoners.
Furthermore, considerable focus should be made on human rights, because the interior ministry claims that it has implemented the constitution, prison and detention centers laws and the United Nations conventions about prevention of torture and inhuman cruel punishment, but apparently the rules are only in books and seldom implemented.
Likewise, technical and vocational trainings should be provided to prisoners in order to enable them to put food on the table in an honorable manner in lieu of adopting the pervious way—committing crimes. Building inmates skills is crucial to reduce the criminal population.