More than 80,000 inmates are being kept in the prisons against the capacity of 56,495.
The Federal Ombudsman Secretariat has submitted its 3rd quarterly implementation report on the progress being made towards implementing the jail reforms aimed at improving living standards of prisons in Pakistan. The apex court was informed that a 80,145 inmates are housed by 98 prisons across Pakistan against a dismally low capacity of 56495 inmates. Prior to presenting the report, the Honourable Mohtasib Syed Tahir Shahbaz had held a series of consultative meetings with the Chief Secretaries and the IGs of Prisons at all the four provincial head quarters in this regard. The report was presented in the Supreme Court on behalf of the Federal Ombudsman by the Secretary Wafaqi Mohtasib Secretariat Dr. Jamal Nasir and Hafiz Ahsaan Ahmed Khokhar, Senior Adviser Law of Wafaqi Mohtasib Secretariat. Previously, the Federal Ombudsman, after conducting a thorough study and in consultation with the stake-holders, had submitted its recommendations in the suo-motu case No.1 of 2006 of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The apex court, in its judgment, had endorsed the recommendation and had asked the Wafaqi Mohtasib Secretariat to present quarterly reports on the implementation of those recommendations.
While presenting the report, Hafiz Ahsaan Ahmed Khokhar informed that of the 80,145 inmates, 45,423 were detained in Punjab, 16,739 in Sindh, 15969 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 2014 in Balochistan. He further elaborated that these prisons had 1,135 juvenile prisoners, 24,280 convicted fallen and 51,710 were under-trial prisoners. It was informed that the efforts are underway to redress the plight and miseries of women prisoners detained in these jails.
The court was further informed that The Federal Ombudsman had already directed all the provincial governments to constitute oversight committees each at the provincial and district level to monitor the conditions of their respective prisons. Ministry of Interior & Provincial Home/Prison Departments had been instructed to appoint Senior Officers to act as focal persons to monitor the performance of the committees. The Law & Justice Commissions along with the Advocate Generals and the Provincial Ombudsmen are asked to review and submit proposals for significant expansion of probation / parole facilities in order to relieve burden on jail resources. Based on the recommendations of WMS, a post of psychiatrist in each prison has already been created and bio-metric system has also been installed in all the jails across Pakistan.
The Federal Ombudsman Secretariat, in its recommendations, has directed all provinces to induct members of good reputation from civil society, retired civil servants, judicial officers, bar councils and chambers of commerce in the oversight committees. Provincial Home departments are asked to provide better facilities to prisoners in jails, judicial lockups and Bakshi Khanas. All I.G prisons are tasked with finding donors to improve medical facilities being in prisons , establishment of rehabilitation centers( for prisoners suffering with mental illness and drug abuse) and clinical labs for conducting tests for HIV and Hepatitis. Similarly, provision of education facilities and skill development, with the help of educational institutions, are to be ensured in all prisons. It has also been proposed to establish a Prisoners Welfare Fund at the provincial level.
The report also indicated that in order to provide security to the 785 female prisoners, locked up in 28 jails of Punjab, separate barracks/blocks have been constructed in all the 28 prisons. These blocks were being supervised by female staff and the female prisoners have been provided separate washrooms. The report also highlighted that during the current financial year, construction of five new prisons namely District Jail Lodhran, High Security Prison Mianwali, sub-jail Samundri, sub-jail Pindi Bhattian and sub-jail Gojra having combined capacity of 2644 prisoners would also be completed. Likewise, the K.P.K Government is also constructing three district jails and one more jail would be constructed in the next Annual Development Plan. While in Islamabad, the Ministry of Interior has informed the Ombudsman Office that a 720 kanal land for the Islamabad Model Prison has already been acquired in sector H-16 and a PC-I for the construction of the prison approved. In the first phase, the work on the administration block, boundary wall, male barracks, etc. is underway.
The report further indicated that in Sindh drug addicts had been quarantined and steps also been taken for screening/treatment of TB,HIV, Hepatitis, AIDS and drug addict prisoners in coordination with the NGOs. In Punjab, a drug addict barrack in each jail has been designated as the rehabilitation center and 32,227 prisoners had been detoxified over the past five years. The report also indicates that a 20-bed Detoxification Center has been established in the central jails of Lahore and Rawalpindi each. Soon, a scheme of six-bed Detoxification Centers will be introduced in nine other jails in Punjab. The prisoners suffering from mental illness have been shifted from other districts of Punjab to the Punjab Institute of Mental Health, Lahore for treatment. In the KPK, joint efforts are being made by Home, Social Welfare and Health departments to carry out Detoxification drives; whereas, in Balochistan, drug abuser and mentally challenged prisoners have been kept in separate rooms inside a jail where basic treatment has been provided by the jail doctors.
Apart from above, the Ombudsman Secretariat is going to sign an M.O.U with the University of Health Sciences, Lahore for conducting psychological and technical training of the trainers hired for prisoners in jails. The Federal Ombudsman Secretariat, through its quarterly report, assured the apex court of its continuous monitoring and supervision towards the implementation of jail reforms.