By Fakhar Alam
ISLAMABAD, Dec 01 (APP):Almost all of the jails of the country are overcrowded as 77,275 inmates languish in 114 prisons against the sanctioned capacity of 57,742 prisoners — the lockups have additionally detained around 19,533 prisoners.
No doubt, majority of the cases are under-trials, however, the convicted prisoners are in cramped conditions. As the prisons had 25,456 convicted prisoners while 48,008 under-trials with 37,600 males, 1,204 females and 1,248 juvenile.
According to 4th quarterly implementation report of Federal Ombudsman Secretariat (FOS), 47,077 inmates against sanctioned capacity of 32,477 are detained in 42 jails of Punjab, 17,239 against the capacity of 13, 038 in 24 jails of Sindh, 10,871 against the capacity of 9,642 in 37 jails in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 2,088 against the sanctioned strength of 2,585 in 11 jails of Balochistan.
In Punjab’s jails, 17,056 convicted, 26,725 under- trial, 45,646 male, 769 female and 662 juvenile are confined. Likewise, in Sindh, 4,808 convicted, 12,431 under-trials, 16,852 male, 214 female and 173 juvenile are kept.
In KP, 2,794 convicted, 7,668 under-trials, 13,304 male, 201 female and 366 juvenile are languishing. In Balochistan, 798 convicted, 1184 under-trial, 798 male, 20 female and 47 juvenile are imprisoned. Balochistan is the only province that is presently free of overcrowding in jails.
The report has recommended constitution of provincial and district oversight committees for improving jails conditions, appointing of focal persons at Ministry of Interior, Provincial Home and Prison Departments to make surprise visits of the respective committees and construction of jails in every district with separate portion for women and juvenile prisoners, sleeping space, toilet and hygiene facilities for every prisoner.
In order to address the overcrowding’s problem in the capital, 720 kanal land for construction of a ‘Model Prison’ has been acquired in Sector H-16 Islamabad and its PC-I costing Rs3.9 billion was approved out of which Rs 140 million was so for utilized. Work on administration block, boundary wall, male barracks are under process and the jail is expected to complete by June 30, 2020.
In Punjab, a scheme worth Rs. 50 million for purchase of land for the office complex of Directorate General Reclamation & Probation and Rs.25 million for development of Offender Management Information System (OMIS) have been included in ADP 2019-20.
A scheme for establishment of 20-beds hospital for treatment of drug addicts at Central Jails Lahore and Rawalpindi is underway. As many as 639 convicted prisoners were released in lieu of payment of fine, diyat, arsh and daman this year in Punjab.
In Sindh, Prisons Correctional Act 2019 has been passed by Sindh Assembly besides upgradation of district prison Mirpurkhas as Central Prison and work on installation of networking of 22-jails started. The prisons record is being computerized and further developed after connecting it with NADRA system for proper identification of prisoners.
An ADP scheme for feasibility study of prisons industries and skill development of the prisoners were initiated and PC-II costing Rs2,220 million has been sent to Home Department on August 8, 2019 for setting up of industries in jails to enable prisoners to earn dignified livelihoods after completing their jail term.
As many as 20 poor convicted prisoners were released before Eid-ul-Fiter on payment of fine of Rs6,951,755 and Rs13,237,863 are required for release of 33 more poor prisoners imprisoned in KP.
Talking to APP, Deputy Director Administration, Prison Department KP, Majid Gufran, said that expansion work on triple storey building at Central Jail Peshawar having additional barracks, mosque, dispensary, medicines and doctors rooms has been completed and more than 2,300 inmates would now be accommodated in Pakistan’s oldest jail established in 1854.
He said that under phase-II, the administration block and a residential colony for jail staff would be constructed in premises of the Peshawar jail for which consultant was hired.
The reconstruction work on Swat prison with the capacity of 400 prisoners would be completed by 2020 while a district jail at Shah Mansoor in Swabi is being constructed to arrest overcrowding, he added.
Gufran said that at least Rs 287 million is required for renovation of 15 lock ups in erstwhileFata, which were declared sub jails by KP Govt. He said that expansion work at Central Jail DI Khan has been launched besides expediting work on district jail Hangu to be inaugurated in three months.
The concerned ministries have been urged to allocate necessary funds for improvement in jails besides ensuring establishment of Prisoners Voluntary Donations Fund (PVDF) at provincial level.
The bar councils should provide free legal aids to prisoners, especially to under-trial ones to counter the social problem of overcrowding in jails, the report concluded.