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    Prisoners’ number sees 13-fold increase in 10 years

    KABUL (PAN): The numbers of prisoners across Afghanistan has shot up from 2000 in 2003 to 26,000 in 2012, showing an annual increase of more than 20 percent over the past 10 years, an official said on Tuesday.

    Brig. Gen. Amir Mohammad Jamshidi, the general director of prisons, acknowledged: “In 2003, we had around 2,000 inmates, but the number is consistently rising as a result of population growth and the soaring crime graph.”

    In an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, Jamshidi said most of these prisoners were political, criminals and smugglers, including 650 women. Of them, 7,000 prisoners are being held in the Pul-i-Charkhi jail, the largest detention facility in the country.

    As the number of prisoners has been on the rise, the government has been unable to provide them necessary facilities.

    A Pul-i-Charkhi jail inmate, accuse of having link to the Taliban, said that conditions for prisoners were extremely bad. He claimed the doctor frequently remained unavailable and the jail clinic lacked life-saving drugs, he complained.

    Power outages and water shortages also contributed to prisoners’ woes, the inmate said on condition of anonymity. He urged the authorities to address their problems on a priority basis.

    Dreaded criminals and ordinary prisoners were being kept together in the jail, said another inmate.

    Jamshidi confirmed the problems and said the power shortage had resulted from over-consumption by prisoners, who used heavy heaters to warm their rooms. He tied water scarcity to power loadshedding.

    The government intended to build and refurbish jails throughout the country according the prisoner needs, he said. Some new prisons had been built and the Pul-i-Charkhi jail would be reconstructed by the US, Jamshidi concluded.

    ml/mud