The Minister of Home Affairs Asaduzzaman Khan formally inaugurated a pilot database system for Department of Prisons on 17 September at Pan Pacific Sonargaon. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) developed the biometric database which is being piloted at Kashimpur Central Jail 2 and Gazipur District Jail since June 2019. U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh, Earl R. Miller, and UN Resident Coordinator, Mia Seppo were present at the launch event, among others.
With the support of U.S. Department of State, UNODC extended its assistance to Bangladesh prisons for the development and establishment of a modern electronic database to improve the overall management of the prison system. As the database will capture biometric information of the prisoners, it will address many challenges that the prison department is currently facing.
The Home Minister acknowledged the necessity of a modern database for Bangladesh prison to augment the efficiency of the prison staff as well as to reduce the possibility of errors. “We have to design a continuation of this project to expand the system in other prisons,” said the Minister, putting emphasis on the envisaged countrywide implementation of the system.
The UNRC Mia Seppo said, “the United Nations in Bangladesh brings its collective expertise in support of the Government of Bangladesh, and this cooperation is essential to development and implementation of national policies and legal frameworks, to bring in effective criminal justice reforms. In accordance with its mandate, the UN collaborates on a number of areas with Bangladesh to strengthen the rule of law and good governance, including prison reforms”.
Using a desktop application, the prison staff shall conduct all regular activities pertaining to the prisoners, such as prisoner admission, sending prisoners to court hearings, transferring prisoners to another prison or hospital, release on bail or acquittal etc. Upon arrival of a new prisoner, the system checks whether the prisoner is previously registered in the system through fingerprint matching. The prisoner’s’ personal details including information of the case lodged against them are also recorded.
Criminal justice experts appreciated the initiative of introducing an electronic prisoner database in order to standardize records and in the long run improve the prison conditions by facilitating reporting, resource planning and development of targeted rehabilitation interventions, in line with the Nelson Mandela Rules.