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Bangladesh to free prisoners early to reduce overcrowding

[JURIST] The government of Bangladesh [JURIST news archive] plans to release certain inmates [press briefing] who have served half their prison sentences in order to reduce the country's overcrowded prison populations, Bangladeshi officials said Monday. The prisoner release plan comes following the June announcement of a clampdown on crime [JURIST report]. The prisons are now at triple their intended capacity, but Home Adviser Mohammad Abdul Matin [official profile] said that the arrests were primarily based on warrants and other crimes and were not for political reasons under the Emergency Power Rules. Bangladeshi political parties the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party [party websites] have already accused the government of using the sweep for political purposes, and rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the government of making widespread unwarranted arrests [HRW report]. AFP has more. The New Nation has local coverage.

Bangladesh's current anti-corruption movement began last February when eight former Bangladeshi ministers were accused of corruption [JURIST report] and 13 other former ministers and senior politicians were arrested in raids on their homes [JURIST report] after Bangladeshi President Iajuddin Ahmed declared a state of emergency [JURIST report] in the country and canceled a scheduled national election. In May, Bangladeshi authorities approved a Truth and Accountability Commission [JURIST report] that would allow corrupt officials and businessmen to avoid jail time by publicly confessing and returning any illegally obtained money. The commission is designed to ease the burden on the country's Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) [governing statute; JURIST news archive], which faces a huge backlog of cases that could take years to clear.

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