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District parole panels have not met for a decade

July 06, 2013

PESHAWAR, July 5: Panelists at a workshop, including judicial officers, on Friday complained that the district parole committees in the province had not met for more than a decade due to the abolition of the post of the district magistrate after the introduction of the ‘new devolution system’.

They recommended that the provincial government amend the relevant laws to reactivate the district parole committees by making the relevant district and sessions judges their heads for the relief of prisoners.

The daylong workshop was organised by Peshawar’s district judiciary in collaboration with Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Children (Sparc) for judicial officers, representatives of police investigation, probation and prison departments here at the Judicial Complex.

In their recommendations, the panelists said juvenile courts should be established at districts for trying child offenders and that rules should be notified for the early functioning of borstal institutions.

They said funds for legal assistance to juvenile offenders and victims should be provided for activating panels of lawyers announced under the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance (JJSO) 2000.

According to them, the provisions of probation and parole should be given effect in accordance with the spirit of the relevant laws.

The panelists recommended the strengthening of the probation department both in terms of resources and capacity in accordance with the recommendation given by the National Judicial Policy Making Committee.

They said there should be pre-service training of judicial officers, prosecutors, investigators and other stakeholders of criminal justice system.

Programme manager of Sparc Akbar Ali Shah explained the objectives of the workshop saying it was aimed at discussing the role, responsibilities and functions of different stakeholders of criminal justice system which was important for successful implementation of the laws regarding protection and welfare of the child at risk and children in conflict with the law.

Peshawar’s district and sessions judge Shehbar Khan, who was the chief guest, said such workshops were important for sharing experiences among stakeholders, which helped them reach a just conclusion on an issue.

He called upon judicial officers to fully implement what they had learnt from the workshop to provide relief to children in conflict with the law.

Additional district and sessions judge of Peshawar Inamullah Wazir said under the law, trial of a juvenile could not be held jointly with an adult and there was restriction on awarding death sentence to a juvenile offender.

Peshawar’s civil judge Syed Fazal Wadood said detaining a child should be the last resort as there were several alternates available to detention like provision of vocational and technical training and sending the child to reformatory school or community centres.

He said releasing a juvenile offender on probation would reduce burden on prisons.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Judicial Academy director (research) Dr Adnan Khan briefed participants on domestic applications of child rights conventions.