Pathetic condition of women prisoners in Pakistani jails

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Nation special feature

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Ombudsman Monday submitted its report in the Supreme Court (SC) regarding miserable conditions of women in jails. In the report submitted by Secretary Wafaqi Mohtasib Secretariat (WMS), Dr Jamal Nasir through Hafiz Ahsan Khokhar, the WMS assured the apex court that all efforts would continue to be made to ensure action on the references made by it to this secretariat and it would keep a close liaison with the provincial ombudsmen’s offices as well as the concerned agencies at federal and provincial level for this purpose.

Regular meetings with the stakeholders would be held at federal and provincial level and surprise visits to prisons would also be conducted and carried out by District Oversight Committees and the representatives from WMS for implementation of the recommendations contained in the WMS report. Quarterly implementation report would be submitted to the apex court accordingly, the report added.

The report said arrangements for formal and vocational education and training for prisoners have been made. Similarly, welfare initiatives have been taken especially for women, juvenile and old age prisoners and these initiatives also include payment of diyat and fines to deserving prisoners who have already completed their sentences, clean drinking water in jails where it is needed, psychological lectures and medical facilities for prisoners.

University of Health Sciences will also plan and launch medical campaign in all jails and will submit its further action plan. Home and Prisons Departments of all provinces have already been asked to submit requirements for formal and vocational trainings as well as for provision of health facilities to the prisoners so that educational institutions and University of Health Sciences could be approached for the same.

The report said efforts would be made that drug users and mentally insane prisoners are provided medical treatment and kept separate from other prisoners in all jails.

Discussing the province-wise breakup, the report said the Sindh Prisons Department has reported that they are working on the amendments in Prisons Act and Rules, Probation and Parole and Criminal Justice System for the welfare of the prisoners. Several meetings of working group have been convened by the Home Department and different proposals and drafts are under consideration and discussion before submission to government for amendments in the law.

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Federal ombudsman submits its report in Supreme Court

regarding miserable conditions of women in prisons

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Sindh Home Department has informed that three jails are under construction in Thatta, Shaheed Benazirabad along with extension of District Prison Malir Karachi for 1,000 prisoners. The schemes for construction of new prisons at West Karachi, Tharparker (Mithi), Kamber-Shahdadkot and Kashmore-Kandhkot are being proposed in Annual Development Project (ADP) 2019-20, it added.

Discussing the situation of Punjab, the report said a special committee has been constituted in December, 2018 under the chairmanship of Punjab additional chief secretary to pursue/ expedite the process of revamping of Directorate of Probation and Parole and some new posts are being created to strengthen the Punjab Directorate of Reclamation and Probation.

 “Punjab Home Department has submitted that jail in each district of Punjab except Chiniot, Nankana and Khushab exists and concrete steps were being taken for construction of jails in these districts. In order to reduce overcrowding at Central Jail, Rawalpindi, the process of construction of District Jail, Rawalpindi, has been initiated and land is being acquired. 854 female prisoners were confined in 28 prisons of Punjab and in all these jails, separate barracks/blocks of female prisoners were constructed. Moreover, female blocks were being supervised by female staff. In all prisons the female prisoners are facilitated with the iron cot (charpai) and washrooms,” the report said. The report further said in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa (KP) the Rule of Law Road Map, improving as the service structures of Reclamation and Probation Department has been identified and declared as one of the priorities.

The KP Probation of Offenders Act 2018 has been approved by the chief minister and will be placed before the Cabinet for approval. In the said act, various modalities have been proposed for the reformation of probationers like community service and skills development.

Moreover, amendments in Good Conduct Prisoners Probational Release Rules 1927 have been proposed and submitted to Law Department for vetting. The inspectorate general of prisons informed that out of 25 districts of KP, jails in 21 districts are available. Construction of jails in 3 districts was in process in current ADP, while jail in one district will be processed in the next ADP. 

Narrating the matter of Balochistan province, the report said the Balochistan home department has reported that in some districts like Ziarat and Duki, the average number of prisoners in the existing judicial lockups varies from 10 to 15 prisoners only; therefore, constructing a District Jail for only 15 prisoners would not be desirable.

However, District Jails need to be constructed in District Killa Abdullah at Chaman, Punjgoor, Dera Allah Yar and Kalat while construction works for establishing jails at Killa Saifullah, Harnai and Gawadar are under progress in which a separate and independent portion for women and juvenile prisoners has already been provided for with all basic facilities.

They have further recommended that the funds be allocated for completion of Central Jail Loralai which has been left incomplete due to non-allocation of funds. The home department has been requested that the deputy commissioners of district Killa Abdullah at Chaman, Punjgoor, Dera Allah Yar and Kalat may be advised to arrange for at-least five acre state land preferably near the Police Lines or Session Court Complex for construction of District Jails at these stations.

Accordingly, the home department has asked the concerned deputy commissioners to identify state land for construction of proposed jails in their respective districts.

The report said Ministry of Interior, Islamabad has said 720 kanal land for Islamabad Model Prison has been acquired in Sector H-16, Islamabad. PC-I for construction work of the prison has already been approved at a cost of Rs3.9 billion. So far, an amount of Rs1,140 million has been released and stands utilized. Works on the administration block, boundary wall, male barracks are under process. Expected date of completion of the project is June 30, 2020.