Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) is a legal aid and human rights organization established in Bangladesh in 1986. The main goal of ASK is to “establish the rule of law based on the principles of equality, democracy, human rights, justice and gender equity.”1 Therefore, one such objective is to monitor human rights, including the rights of prisoners. ASK has noted that despite the fact that under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), juveniles under trial are to be held in separate facilities than adults, this is not always the case.2 Another concern is that the government does not generally allow independent human rights monitors to visit prisons, nor are any findings regarding the status of prisons by the government published.3 Over recent years, ASK has also been following deaths occurring in custody.4
Local human rights observers believe that contributing factors to custodial deaths include: “overcrowding, inadequate facilities, and the lack of proper sanitation.”5 Part of the issue with overcrowding is that cases are severely backlogged. The backlogging of cases means that two-thirds of detainees are “either awaiting trial or detained for investigation.”6 This has caused some detainees who are awaiting trial to “spen[d] more time in jail than if they had been convicted and served a maximum sentence.”7 Women who are held in “safe custody,” i.e. those who are victims of rape, trafficking, etc., are supposed to be kept separate from criminals, but in practice they may find themselves housed alongside convicted criminals.8
- 1. Ain o Salish Kendra [ASK], Rights of Prisoners, available at http://www.askbd.org/ask/2010/12/28/human-rights-bangladesh-2010-bangla/ (prepared by Mohammed Tipu Sultan, Deputy Director (Acting), Investigation Unit, ASK).
- 2. Id.
- 3. ASK, Death in Jail Custody in Different Divisions, (2010), http://www.askbd.org/web/?p=1459 (last visited December 17, 2010).
- 4. Id.
- 5. U.S. Dept. of State, 2008 Human Rights Report: Bangladesh (Feb. 25, 2009), available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2008/sca/119132.htm.
- 6. Id.
- 7. Id.
- 8. Id.