The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Monday, January 12, 2009

International Red Cross society delegation in Bhutan

A high level delegation from the International Committee of Red Cross is in Bhutan on a nine-day official visit. The visit coincides with the time when the national assembly is in process of passing the prison related bills. Yesterday, the delegation called on the Foreign Minister Lyonpo Ugyen Tshering and the Home Secretary. The delegation will also meet the Prime Minister before leaving Bhutan. A news release from the Home and Cultural Affairs Ministry says the delegation is here to determine the material and psychological conditions of detention and treatment of the detainees.

In the mean while, prisoners from Lodrai prison are temporarily shifted to local schools, which have remained closed, says a recently released man in Lodrai. This must have been done to prevent the prisoners from meeting the ICRC delegates who are expected to visit Lodrai prison. While ICRC visits Chemgang and lodrai prisons from time to time, most of the prisoners charged with antinational activities are kept in Bhangtar, Yongphula and other prisons, where ICRC do not visit.

The ICRC has been visiting Bhutan since 1993 when it signed an agreement with the Bhutanese government to study the condition of prisons and detention centers and to meet prisoners. The ICRC has been conducting workshops and seminars for police and officials of home ministry. It includes implementation of international humanitarian law with specific focus on 1949 Geneva and 1997 Ottawa Conventions.

The treatment in prisons can be felt from the news:

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