Dhaka : Government is preparing to release 3000 prisoners from jail because of the coronavirus outbreak in the country. A proposal was sent to the home ministry in this regard, prison authority sources confirmed.
The home ministry will forward the proposal to the law ministry after scrutinizing the details of the proposal. Once the law ministry approves the proposal, the prisoners will be released.
According to some sources, prisoners are likely to be released in May.
The government made the move considering the overcrowding at most jails in Bangladesh, as cramped conditions are ideal for the spread of disease and viral infections.
On April 6, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said in a cabinet meeting that the prison authorities have already forwarded a list of 3,000 inmates.
According to media reports, the prime minister gave a greenlight to the proposal and ordered the preparation of a guideline for their release.
Talking on Saturday, Inspector General (IG) of prisons, Brig Gen AKM Mustafa Kamal Pasha said: “The process [of releasing prisoners] is ongoing. Prisoners will be released any time now.”
Earlier, he said the home ministry had directed them to prepare a list of prisoners jailed for minor offences or facing trial in different cases.
“We prepared a complete list and sent it to the home ministry. Now it is up to government higher ups, as to how many prisoners are going to be freed or granted bail,” IG Mustafa said.
According to jail authority sources, around 1,500 prisoners are being considered for release as they have served around 20 years of their prison terms.
According to the jail code, such prisoners can receive clemency if the government so wishes.
Another 1500 of the 3000 prisoners proposed for release, are serving jail terms for minor cases, and some are also physically challenged.
Jail sources said these types of prisoners can also get clemency, but they need to go through a verification process such as checking their prior criminal records.
A top government official hinted that some prisoners might be considered for clemency in light of the recent coronavirus outbreak.
This inclination to pardon and clemency gained traction among government officials after the release of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia from prison.
They felt that not only our country, but also our neighboring country India, is considering the release of prisoners to prevent coronavirus in prison.
Iran, which has been one of the hardest-hit countries, in mid-March temporarily released roughly 100,000 detainees, including some political prisoners.
Other countries including US, Afghanistan, Colombia, Turkey, and the UK released or considering to release prisoners, according to various media reports.
Meanwhile, some government officials hinted that several prisoners, who were associated with the ruling Awami League’s different wings, are also trying to get bail at this time.