Below par : Prisons fail to implement ombudsman’s recommendations

Published: February 8, 2016
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Panel notes alarming condition of jails including rights abuse, corruption. PHOTO: FILE

Panel notes alarming condition of jails including rights abuse, corruption. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Prison officials across the country have failed to implement the federal ombudsman’s recommendations to improve jail conditions especially for women and children, it emerged on Sunday.

An official of the federal ombudsman, who is familiar with the developments, told The Express Tribune that following an order from the Supreme Court, the ombudsman’s office had constituted committees to assess the situation of prisons.

After visiting several major jails in the country, the committee had reported the absence of basic facilities in prisons including clean drinking water and overcrowded cells.

The report also pointed out that most prison structures had been built in the 19th century and were now in a state of decay. At the same time, there were rising allegations of torture and physical violence.

One of the prime areas of concern is non-production of under-trial prisoners. Oddly, the maximum punishment for which prisoners were under-trial  –  if proven guilty – was a fraction of the time they spent waiting for their day in court.

Similarly, prisoners had a hard time meeting with relatives. Often such visits come at a high price.

The committee proposed a number of reforms including classification, segregation, individual treatment, vocational training, reducing criminal capacity, creating deterrence through custody, care and discipline.  It pointed out that there is lack of paid-worker opportunities inside the jail while wages are often not paid.

It also pointed out that there was just one National Academy of Prison Administration and that most staff in prisons had minimal training.

IG Prisons (Sindh) Nusrat Mangan declined to respond to the report. He, however, claimed that some improvement suggested by the ombudsman had been implemented.

IG Prisons (Punjab) Farooq Nazir claimed that his province was taking these recommendations seriously and that prisoners were being provided basic facilities.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th,  2016.

 

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