Dhaka (Agenza Fides) - "We welcome the government's decision to release three thousand prisoners. It is a timely initiative. Many people, imprisoned for minor crimes, can be released in this pandemic situation". This is what Mgr. Bejoy N. D'Cruze, Bishop of Sylhet and president of the Bishop’s Commission for the Unity of Christians and interreligious dialogue said, welcoming the step announced by the government of Bangladesh to release prisoners on less than one year's imprisonment, as a measure to avoid overcrowding and contain the coronavirus contagion. After some positive cases for Covid-19 registered in prison, the authorities ordered the gradual release of over three thousand inmates, starting to release over 385 prisoners.
"I visited prisons in the past few months. Jesus taught us the love and care of those who are in prison. It is our mission to take care of those inside the prison", notes the Bishop. The Bishop’s Commission for "Justice and Peace" has a specific pastoral care for prisoners. Fr. Liton Hubert Gomes, priest of the Holy Cross, in charge of that pastoral ministry, tells Agenza Fides that Bangladesh has about 90,000 prisoners while the maximum capacity of the prison institutions is 40,000. About 180 are also Christians, 40 of whom are foreigners. "It is important to provide security in times of a pandemic: the release of prisoners is a fair decision", he tells Fides.
Pastoral care in prisons includes periodic visits, with meetings and gifts for prisoners and special liturgies such as mass during the Christmas and Easter holidays and Father Liton tells Fides: "In Bangladesh there are thousands of prisoners convicted of small crimes, many are innocent or many are prisoners of conscience, such as politicians, journalists and human rights activists. It would be nice and we hope that 30 thousand prisoners will be released". (FC-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 28/5/2020)