Prisons assessed as violating human rights

The Director of the Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Human Rights (PSHR), D.Ganbat, has criticized the conditions in Women’s Prison 407, following a visit to the prison and to Juvenile Detention Centre 411, United Prison 401 and newly-built Prison 439. D.Ganbat noted that there are ten mothers with newborn infants incarcerated in the Women’s Prison and their living conditions are very bad. He said the women and infants are ill due to the below-standard conditions in the prison. He further pointed out that the law allows the sentences of people with acute diseases, pregnant women and first-time prisoners to be commuted, and noted that prisoners are supposed to be placed in certain prisons depending on the level of their crimes and their number of years of imprisonment.
D.Ganbat visited the prisons with several other officials, including the Prosecutor of the Monitoring Division on Punishment Operations of the General Prosecutor’s Office of Mongolia, T.Munkhbayar; the Chief of the Internal Implementation Management Authority of the Ministry of Justice, O.Altangerel; and several members of parliament, O.Baasankhuu, Lu.Bold, and Z.Bayanselenge. The visitors were there to view the conditions in the prisons and assess whether the human rights of the prisoners are being respected.
According to prison data, the Juvenile Detention Centre has 39 inmates (all are aged between 15 and 19). Of these, seven are detained in the maximum security division. The juveniles study the general education curriculum provided through the 110th School in Khan-Uul District, which belongs to the Juvenile Detention Centre. Inmates of the Juvenile Detention Centre are involved in music, dance and bakery training run by local and foreign organizations. As the school is only capable of providing education up to 9th Grade, the centre’s administrators have requested that the Ministry of Education and Science enable the juvenile inmates to study further grades in high school and thereby have the possibility of acquiring the General Education Certificate.
The former President of Mongolia, N.Enkhbayar, is imprisoned in United Prison 401 and the members of the PSHR visited him there. Journalists seeking information on the health of the former president were kept waiting for an hour before the members of the PSHR and the Executive Physician of the prison delivered a statement saying that as N.Enkhbayar has, of his own free will, refused medical treatment, his health hasn’t recovered and his blood pressure is unstable. O. Baasankhuu met with N. Enkhbayar and stated that “N. Enkhbayar said that he has realized one thing to the bone – which is that Mongolia has become a country of imprisonment. He said that ‘When the accused is not proven to be guilty, why must they be kept in prison during the investigation process? Thus you must try to build a society in which residents live in a merciful and fair condition.’ He (N. Enkhbayar) must undergo rehabilitation medical treatment urgently. His health is in a very bad condition.”
The visitors concluded from their prison visits that human rights are not being sufficiently respected in the prisons. This assessment is supported by the fact that ten prisoners died in 2010 and11 prisoners died in 2011 at United Prison 401 due to sub-standard conditions. Given that it is against law to kill prisoners unless they have been sentenced to capital punishment, the members of the PSHR therefore agreed that it is unlawful and against human rights to cause the death of prisoners through poor living conditions. O.Baasankhuu also criticized the current perceptions in society which result in the public rejecting former prisoners, and stated that this perception must change. The law makers must consider the situation of prisoners and be compassionate. The members also agreed that the PSHR must operate within the limits defined by the standing committee.
Currently, around 6,800 people are being imprisoned in 25 prisons and detention centres in Mongolia, which is a relatively high number for a country with a population of 2.7 million citizens. The women’s prison alone has 392 female prisoners. One of them is under 18, and 50 of them are in the maximum security division. The prison has ten mothers with infants aged below 1 year old. At present only two prisons in Mongolia are believed to meet modern standards for the treatment of prisoners.
In recognition of the poor conditions in the prisons of Mongolia, Caritas Czech Republic (CCR), a non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO), has recently launched a project that seeks to promote greater respect for human rights in the prisons. According to the Country Director of CCR, Cyril Jaurena, the overall objective of the project is to support civil society in Mongolia to uphold human rights and to promote democratization. Caritas will work in cooperation with the Prison Fellowship of Mongolia and another local NGO, the Centre for Protection of Breaches of Human Rights, with funding from the European Commission and the Government of the Czech Republic. A key activity will be to build the capacity of prison social workers to assist prisoners in upholding their rights and to assist prisoners to rehabilitate and reintegrate into society. The project also aims to facilitate the provision of legal counseling to prisoners, and will train prison workers on the topic of human rights. As part of the project, a study will be conducted in the prisons to collect accurate data on the current situation with regard to respect for human rights.

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Posted by on Jan 16 2013. Filed under Domestic. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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