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Inside Helmand's Prison

The province’s only jails lacks the funds to provide decent sanitation.
In Helmand's only prison in Lashkar Gah, the inmates live in squalor. Sometimes they go for years without trial. Our reporter, Sultan Mohammad Sultani, talked to prisoners about what it's like on the inside:

The walls of Lashkar Gah’s main prison are six metres high, with four large towers. Among the many prisoners here is 32-year-old Juma Gul. A tall man, he is into his second year in this jail. But he says he still hasn’t been sentenced.

“There were four of us living in a room in Badghis. The authorities came and arrested us, accusing us of smuggling,” he recalls. “They transferred us to Kabul and we were imprisoned at the Pul-e-Charkhi jail. After that, they sent us to Helmand. One of the four has been released, another is still in Pul-e-Charkhi, and the other two of us are here in Helmand.”

Although prisoners say they’re happy with the prison authorities, they still complain about the problems – one common complaint being the dirty toilets and lack of sanitation.

Twenty-eight-year old Amanullah was convicted of robbery and theft.

“My friend stole something using my car, so they came and arrested me instead of him, and this is the fourth year that I’ve been here,” he says.

The prison’s head Abdul Rahman confirms there were problems with toilets and sanitation as inmates says. He wants the authorities to help solve this problem.

“We ask the Helmand governor’s administration to build cells and toilets for the prisoners,” says Abdul Rahman.

Unemployment is a serious problem in Helmand, and contributes to high levels of crime.

Teenager Mohammad Qasem was imprisoned on theft charges, but says the only reason he did it was that he didn’t have a job.

“It was unemployment that made me steal, and if the government doesn’t give me work, I might steal again,” he says.

Unemployment has increased in Helmand recently, and the government has yet to do anything about it.

Mohammad Sultani for IWPR in Helmand.

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