PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is considering a soft loan plan for convicts languishing in the province’s different jails despite serving sentences only because of their inability to pay Diyyat (blood money) to the heirs of their victims.
Those convicted under Qisas and Diyyat provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code have to either fit a criteria to get released after serving time or pay Diyyat, money paid to the heirs of the person(s) killed by them.
Arsh is another form of compensation paid by convicts to those whom injury was caused.
“There are many people (in jails), who have completed their term but have been languishing in jail for years just because they can’t pay Diyyat,” Mohammad Arif Khattak, deputy secretary (judicial wing) of the provincial home department, told Dawn.
Many languishing long in KP jails due to inability to pay blood money
He said the department’s sub-committee on Qisas and Diyyat had decided that there should be a soft loan scheme to help such prisoners pay Diyyat or Arsh.
Khattak, who is also a member of the sub-committee, which recommends to the federal government to fund their release if convicted prisoners fit a criteria given in the law, said the panel had asked the prison department to provide them with a list of such inmates for consideration during the next quarterly meeting.
According to him, if a convicted prisoner has served time and is more than 60, or is mentally unfit or is a woman with an infant, then he or she qualifies to be released after serving sentence. However, young convicted prisoners with no money to pay Diyyat often continue languishing in jails despite serving time.
Soft loans offered on a very low interest rate could be a help for such people. However, if they fail to pay back this loan, they will be taken in custody again.
An official said although philanthropists had also been helping prisons with funds, prisoners, who had to pay Diyyat, were supposed to make the payment themselves.
He said financial empowerment would help convicts get out of jail after years of incarceration.
Senior lawyer Noor Alam Khan, who works for the rights of jail inmates by running an organisation, Voice of Prisoner, said instead of soft loans, such prisoners should be given interest-free loans, which the Zakat Council could arrange, or else there should be some way to help such persons with Zakat.
He emphasised that the time, which a prisoner spent in incarceration, should be made useful by teaching him or her technical skills so that he or she could earn money and pay Diyyat himself easily.
“If a person comes out of prison after paying Diyyat by taking loan, he will again be strained and tempted to commit crime to earn quick money to pay loan,” he said.
The lawyer said currently, around 53 convicts had been languishing in different jails of the province despite serving time as they were unable to pay Diyyat.
Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2015