Under-trial prisoners outnumber convicts in jails across Pakistan

Prisons across Pakistan house more prisoners than their sanctioned capacity

Hasnaat Malik November 06, 2019
PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The number of under-trial prisoners languishing in prisons across the country is higher than convicted prisoners, said a recent report submitted in the Supreme Court revealed.

The fourth quarterly implementation report regarding the status of implementation of recommendations and improvement of jail conditions in Pakistan was submitted by the Federal Ombudsman Secretariat through Advocate Hafiz Ahsaan Ahmad Khokar.

The report further revealed that the present prison population is above the sanctioned capacity for prisons in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

In Punjab, the difference amounted to 14,600 while Sindh was at 4,201 and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at 1,229.

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The number of inmates convicted in Punjab stood at 17,056 while 26,725 were under-trial. In Sindh, 4,808 convicts are present while 12,431 accused await trial. K-P has 2,794 convicts in jail and 7,668 under-trial prisoners while prisons across Balochistan house 798 convicts and 1,184 under-trial prisoners.

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An overwhelming ratio of male to female prisoners was witnessed across all provinces.

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The report noted that Punjab’s Annual Development Programme (ADP 2019-20) included an Rs50 million allotment for the purchase of land for the Directorate General of Reclamation & Probation's office complex and Rs.25 million for the development of Offender Management Information System (OMIS).

A 20-bed hospital for treatment of drug addicts is also being established in the central jails of Lahore and Rawalpindi and a committee has been set up to develop a common electronic interface between criminal justice agencies to implement the recommendation.

At least 639 convicts were released throughout 2019 in lieu of payment of fine, diyat, arsh and daman.

51,674 under trial prisoners detained in 98 jails, SC told

In Sindh, the Prisoners Correctional Act was passed by the provincial assembly.

The district prison in Mirpurkhas was upgraded to central jail status. The provincial prisons department stated that an amount of Rs339.574 million was released for payment to the victims of 37 prisoners, who have completed their sentences but are still languishing in Sindh's prisons.

At least 32 prisoners have been released after payment of diyat, arsh and daman while one prisoner is awaiting the payment of diyat amounting to Rs123 million to be released by the Federal Government.

A total of Rs85 million has been allocated for the Prisoners Welfare Committee (PWC) for the year 2019-20.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has identified the “rule of law road map” to improve “the service structures of reclamation and probation department” while Chief Minister Mahmood Khan approved the K-P Probation of Offenders Act 2018.

At least 21 out of 25 districts have jails while prisons in four districts are under construction. At least 15 political lockups have been declared sub-jails in the newly merged tribal districts.

Vocational centres established at Haripur, Bannu and Mardan in collaboration with Tevta. At least 20 convicts were released before Eidul Fitr on payment of a fine of Rs6951,755 while funds amounting to Rs13237,863 required for the release of 33 prisoners.

In Balochistan, an Rs250 million project for the establishment of reclamation and probational divisional headquarters has been approved by the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).

An endowment fund of Rs500 million for offenders was also created. Deputy commissioners across the province were asked to propose at five acres of state land for construction of district prisons in Qila Saifullah, Chaman, Panjgoor, Dera Allah Yar and Kalat. Construction of Central Jail Loralai has been approved by the P&D Department with a total cost of Rs250.00 million, reflected in PSDP of 2019-20.

In Islamabad, 720 kanal land in Sector H-16 has been acquired for the federal capital’s first model prison – Rs3.9 billion have been approved for the project of which Rs1,140 million has been released and utilised. The project’s completion date is June 30, 2020, added the report.

SC dismisses under-trial prisoner’s plea against shifting to Sukkur prison

In his recommendations, Khokhar also suggested activation of provincial and district oversight committees tasked with regular visits and evaluation.

He also urged for finalising of unsettled amendments in probation and parole laws and a biometric verification system or common interface for prisoners throughout the chain – jail to courts. Khokhar pushed for education, rehabilitation, medical and sanitation facilities and a system of legal aid and payment of fines.

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