Prisoners’ Plight in Prisons

[wp_ad_camp_1] Issue of Prisoners’ Plight in Prisons

By Zaib Azkaar Hussain


Zaib Azkaar Hussain, the author of the editorial.

The Sindh government has the edge over other provincial governments of the country that it has taken a resolute decision to introduce healthy reforms by moving a bill before the Sindh Assembly to turn provincial prisons into correctional house.

The other provinces should also follow the footstep so the prison inmates could be educated and make useful citizens after on completion of their sentences.

Adviser to the Chief Minister (CM) on Law and Information Barrister Murtaza Wahab has made it clear to amend the old punitive Prison Act 1894 by a bill to make prisons as correctional houses was being moved very soon.

He said the prisons should not be termed to be some torture house and instead they were correctional house. It is good stance but the past incidents of severely torturing of inmates and their deaths in custody are evident that the prisons attached least respect to prisoners and failed to respect their fundamental right.

Still it is not too late as the laws were updated and made according to the present times’ requirements and way were mended seriously.

In January this year, the Sindh CM Syed Murad Ali Shah had announced to take the matter up and later in March, he had reiterated his commitment to turning provincial jails into correctional houses so that the inmates turn out as useful, peaceful and responsible citizens when they are released after the completion of their sentences.

He had spoken at a programme organised at the Central Jail Karachi in connection with Pakistan Day. The event was hosted by Sindh Prisons Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah and the participants included Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani, Adviser to the CM on Law and Information Murtaza Wahab, Home Secretary Kazi Kabir, Inspector General of Police Dr Kaleem Imam, Additional IG Karachi Dr Ameer Shaikh, the advocate general Sindh, the prosecutor general Sindh and other officers.

He had pointed out that the prisoners in Sindh had not been granted a remission of sentence since 2013.

He had assured the prisoners that he would not only give prisoners a due remission in the current year but would find out legal provisions to give them remission for the intervening period as well.

The CM himself had noted that introduction of prison reforms was a dire need and despite some changes in the laws it needed more reforms to improve conditions in prisons eternally. 

He observed “Actually, apart from educational and technical activities, I want to start some behavioural exercises and psychotherapy for the jail inmates so that their behavior can be changed.”

He argued that “Attitudes towards punishment have changed over time. The methods of punishment that were deemed acceptable in the past are now considered to be cruel because they have failed to produce results.”

Now the provincial cabinet has been discarded the old act and approved the Sindh Prisons and Correction Act 2019 aimed at confining all prisoners in safe custody, ensuring their fundamental rights and their rehabilitation into society as law-abiding citizens.

Another problem is the space of the prisons in Sindh. At the time of independence of Pakistan, there were only five prisons in Sindh Province. However, after independence twenty (20) new prisons have been constructed in Sindh but still they are not sufficient in comparison to the quantity of under trial prisoners and those convicted by the courts and facing detention awarded by the trial courts.

Large number of prisoners are adjusted at relatively narrow place of a prison like central prison in Karachi. It needs to construct more prisons to adjust the inmates over there and provide due legal facilities.

Barrister Murtuza Wahab says that the opposition parties had also supported the stance of the government to discard a 125 years old act and introduce such a bill that could enable prisoners more productive and useful after coming out of prisons. According to the Prison Minister Syed Nasir Shah the bill which was being moved before the assembly has 14 chapters and 84 sections in which purpose of a prison system, basic principles and definitions have been given clearly. He stated that the new dealt with the declaration of prisons, sub-jail, judicial lock-ups, the establishment of prison policy board and management committees, duties of IG and other officers, establishment of a Prison Training Academy, recruitment, transfer, posting, discipline and performance and powers of officers and the medical officer, prisoners’ well being rehabilitation. Such as non-discrimination, meaningful remunerated employment opportunities, minimum one visit for one hour per month, education, vocational training, health facilities and social and psychological services, visits and correspondence such as prisoners can send or send or receive letters, visits – supervised, audio or video recorder etc., prisoners oversight committee visits, inspections, testing of food and inquiries into complaints among other issues. The cabinet has already been discussed the draft and approved. Hope the bill become a law very soon and regardless of the political tussles, the other provincial governments would also review the old laws and formulate new updated laws to make inmates more useful and law-abiding citizens, instead to become abnormal, violent and habitual criminals.



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