Myitkyina, Lashio and Nyaungshwe prisons in northeastern Myanmar are holding three times more inmates than they were built for, according to the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission.
The capacity of the prisons is 1000 inmates each, but they hold more than 3000 prisoners each.
“There are 3559 prisoners at Myitkyina prison, 3425 prisoners at Naungshwe and around 3400 prisoners at Lashio. Overcrowding at these prisons is denying prisoners their human rights,” said U Yu Lwin Aung, head of the commission.
The commission checked prisons across the country starting in May, U Yu Lwin Aung, who led the inspection, said.
Also, three other prisons have exceeded their capacities by more than 100 percent, two prisons have exceeded theirs by more than 90pc, two have exceeded theirs by more than 50 pc, and three have 40 percent more prisoners than they were designed for, according to the commission.
Overcrowding poses a serious health risk to prisoners. There are not enough places to sleep, and not enough toilets, U Yu Lwin Aung said.
“Inmates in Myitkyina prison have trouble just finding a place to sleep. When they sleep, they don’t have enough room to lie on their backs. The inmates are cupped into each other, feet tucked against someone else’s head. Some have to sleep while sitting,” he said.
The commission has submitted a report on the conditions to the President’s Office and Ministry of Home Affairs.
The commission suggested that the government release those prisoners who can safely be released. It said that 80pc of prisoners in Myanmar have drug trafficking convictions, and they should be punished in other ways, such as being sentenced to community service. Most such prisoners are drug users and small-time dealers.
Myanmar has 44 prisons and 50 labour camps. There are about 90,000 prisoners, whom the government allocates K960 each a day, according to the prisons department.