Separate ACC detention center to come up

The ongoing session of the National Assembly resolved the home and finance ministries provide financial support to build a separate detention centre for people detained by the Anti Corruption Commission.

In the absence of a separate detention centre, detainees of all categories were held together in the same space of the Royal Bhutan in Police leading to a conflict with the fundamental rights of an individual, since detainees are presumed innocent until proven guilty, according to the National Assembly’s Human Rights Committee (HRC).

As resolved during the 6th session to build a separate detention centre, the HRC presented to the house that the site for the centre has already identified at RBP’s Thimphu Division Office complex.

While the ground works for the centre were completed, further implementation of the resolution was confronted with lack of financial resource. “ACC and RBP do not have funds to construct such a central detention centre that has separate rooms for female and male,” HRC’s Dy. Chairperson MP Kinley Wangmo said.

“As of today, RBP has been dealing with the detainees of all sectors since detention is covered in prison act of Bhutan 2009 irrespective of the nature of case which conflicts the fundamental rights of individual,” said MP Kinley Wangmo. “While it is planned for ACC detainees, there is an understanding that the proposed detention centre could be used for all detainees later on.”

The committee reminded the house that Anti-Corruption Act also has provisions on detention as per Section 91 of the act which empowers ACC to have its own detention centre or hand over its detainees to RBP based on which, ACC keeps its detainees in RBP detention centres. But on the other handRBP does not have detention rooms earmarked particularly for ACC detainees.

“The detainees are different from prisoners and should be treated different from prisoners under different policy and legislation,” MP Karma Tenzin said.

The committee recommended the construction of the detention centre in Thimphu and endorsed the formulation of a national policy and legislation on detention to categorically deal with detention and detainees.

Finance minister Namgay Dorji said that while the RBP has been asked to submit the estimated cost of the construction, it was estimated to be Nu 14 million which, he said, is a hefty amount.  “The best of infrastructure and facilities can’t be provided since it’s a prison but the basic needs should be provided,” he said.

The House resolved that the home and finance ministries provide financial support to ensure the construction of the detention centre.

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