This is with reference to the state of juvenile justice in Pakistan. After the introduction of the National Judicial Policy 2009 (NJP) by the National Judicial Policy Making Committee (NJPMC) headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, significant progress has been noticed in the use of probation as an alternative measures to detention.
The NJP advised the courts and government to make maximum use of the Probation of Offenders Ordinance 1960 and the Good Conduct Prisoners Probational Release Act 1926 for releasing on probation and parole those convicts that qualified for it on account of good behaviour. The committee had also suggested that cases involving underage offenders should be given preference under this policy since the imperative for releasing children should be clear. Despite this, the use of the probation system has not been very productive as far as Balochistan is concerned.
According to the State of Pakistan’s Children 2010 report issued by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), 105 juvenile offenders in Sindh were released on probation in 2010. For Punjab, this figure was 86, while in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa it was 55. Compared to this, in Balochistan, only three juvenile offenders received any benefit under the probation system. Though the number of probation officers has been increased from two to nine in the province, the low number of child offenders benefitting from what is otherwise a good policy suggests that a lot more needs to be done.
Officers who work with the Reclamation and Probation Department have their own grievances. They say that the judiciary is not interested in using this option of probation and the somewhat shocking reality is that many of them are not even aware of its existence! Probation and parole officers are nominated as members in each district by the Criminal Justice Coordination Committee (CJCC) constituted under the Police Order of 2002, but not a single district and sessions judge in Balochistan has raised concerns over the absence of such officers in the area under their jurisdiction.
Nadir Ali Khoso
Advocate of the High Court
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2011.