India prison reforms let death row prisoners meet family

A man peeks through an opening of a door to a prison ward during a concert at the Tihar jail in New Delhi on April 26, 2012. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption There are more than 400,000 inmates in prisons across India, more than half of whom are awaiting trial

Indian prisoners on death row will now be allowed to meet their families one last time before being executed.

It is part of a set of prison reforms announced by the government to modernise the country's notorious prisons.

Legal aid centres will be set up in all jails and better health care will also be provided, the new rules say.

There are more than 400,000 inmates in prisons across India, with more than half of them awaiting trial.

Under the new guidelines, jail authorities will let death row convicts see their families before execution.

Last year, the family of a man convicted for plotting bomb attacks in Mumbai in 1993 was denied a meeting with him ahead of his hanging.

Another part of the reforms involves the establishment of new legal aid centres, which will aim to provide guidance to poorer inmates, especially those awaiting trial.

The new guidelines also make it mandatory for jail officers to ensure the safety of female prisoners and care for their children.

Prison staff will be trained to deal with cases of gender and sexual violence.

"This has been drawn from the UN rules for the treatment of female prisoners and non-custodial measures for women offenders adopted by the UN General Assembly," a government statement said.

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