The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has published statistics highlighting overcrowding in prison cells across the country, suggesting that this is the main cause for the spread of infections and diseases in jails.
Around 76, 000 prisoners are housed in 97 jails all over the country which have a total capacity of holding only 39,578. The figures reveal an overcrowding rate of up to 200 per cent.
The director of the Punjab Tuberculosis Control Programme has said that tuberculosis spread 29 per cent faster in jails due to overcrowding. Furthermore, incidences of water-borne diseases and provision of spurious medicines were part of the problem.
The HRCP figures are a result of accumulated data acquired from prison authorities all over the country.
The report reveals that there were 49,889 prisoners in 32 jails of Punjab while the authorised capacity was 21,527. Farooq Nazir, Inspector General Prisons Punjab told The Express Tribune that with completion of 12 new jails, the situation will be better in Punjab by the end of this year.
In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) the capacity was 7,996, but prisons housed a total of 8,113 detainees. Malik Naveed Khan, former inspector general police K-P indicated that the snail-paced judicial system was a prime cause of jail overcrowding, adding that the strength of session courts judges should be doubled to decrease the number of inmates in jails. Khan also suggested that there should be separate jails for prisoners involved in terrorism.
Sindh jails held 14,119 prisoners against the sanctioned capacity of 11,937, revealed the report. Former Inspector General Police in Sindh, Afzal Ali Shigri, stressed upon the immediate revamping of prisons in the province. “Prisoners’ security should be made the first priority in Sindh”, he said.
In Balochistan, prisons held 2,483 prisoners against a capacity of 2,473. In Gilgit-Baltistan, the prisons held 260 and had the capacity to hold 645, the report also revealed.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 28th, 2013.