Afghan prisons’ long route to reform

Jawad Daadban, Advocacy Specialist

A joint team of government officials and Integrity Watch Afghanistan completed an assessment of the condition of prisons and detention centers in Kabul. The team was tasked based on a presidential decree to look into the quality of service delivery in Pul-e-Charkhi prison, inmates of drug trafficking crimes, and women prison and detention centers in Kabul province.

The findings of the assessment highlight problems in procurement of food and administration of prisons and detention centers. The team found problems in quality of food for inmates, cleanness of the kitchens and distribution of these items to the inmates.

In November 2017, Integrity Watch published a report on major prisons in Afghanistan and concluded that “crumbling of a building and fire in the prisons is a possibility.” The report continued that poor healthcare services, lack of clean drinking water and food for the prisoners, shortage of power and air observed in prisons, seriously violated the basic rights of the inmates. The Ministry of Interior Affairs did not take satisfactory steps to improve the conditions of prisons in the country. However, president Ghani took notice of the issue and discussed the issue at length at a High Council of Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption meeting. The president later, at a National Procurement Commission (NPS) meeting tasked a team of relevant government departments and Integrity Watch to look into the performance of the contractor that supplies food to Pul-e-Charkhi prison.

The findings of the recent assessment by the joint committee was presented to the National Procurement Commission in February 2018 where President Ghani tasked Minister of Interior to come up with a comprehensive reform plan to enhance the quality of service delivery in prisons and detention centers. However, the Ministry of Interior has not come up with a plan so far and has not responded to calls from Integrity Watch to engage CSOs in the reform process.