PESHAWAR: A juvenile prisoner of the Peshawar Central Prison has alleged that he and other juvenile inmates have been sexually abused inside the jail and that certain prison officials ‘supply’ them to adult prisoners.
Official sources informed that few days ago, the boy, stated to be around 14-15, had lodged a complaint with the Peshawar district and sessions judge, Shahid Khan, who had ordered an inquiry into the matter.
The district judge, who is also having powers of the presiding officer of the juvenile court, directed judicial magistrate Asif Khan Jadoon to conduct the inquiry and submit the report to him.
An official said the judicial magistrate had recorded statement of the alleged victim and ordered the production of the record of the jail’s juvenile section.
According to official data, there are around 105 juvenile prisoners in the Peshawar central prison.
Among them are 95 under-trials and 10 convicts. There are around 338 juvenile prisoners in all the prisons and judicial lock-ups in the province including 311 under trial juveniles and 27 convicted.
The official said the alleged victim had submitted his complaint last Thursday when he was brought from the prison to a local court on completion of his judicial remand.
Magistrate probing matter, seeks record of prison’s juvenile section
The court had recorded his statement and forwarded his complaint and the statement to the district judge.
The official said the boy had named four prison officials doing duties inside the main prison compound.
Although the juvenile section is separate, it is situated inside the prison’s building.
The boy has allegedly said the said officials had randomly been taking out juvenile inmates and supplying them to different prisoners on return for monitory considerations.
He has also requested that his medical examination might be conducted. He has alleged that other prison officials were aware of the heinous acts but they had turned a blind eye to it.
The ‘victim’ said other juvenile inmates had not been raising their voice out of fear of torture by the prison officials as well as adult prisoners.
Under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Juvenile Justice System Rules 2002, a juvenile means a person who at the time of commission of an offence has not attained the age of 18 years and includes a child and a youthful offender.
Interestingly, the said rules were notified in 2012 and under them, the government will set up a borstal institution for juvenile offenders in each of the district, but despite passage of over a decade no institution has so far been made functional in the province.
“The previous provincial government had enacted the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Borstal Institution Act, 2012, under which the government was to establish one or more Borstal institutions at such place or places in the province as it may determined,” said Jehanzeb Khan, the regional head of Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child.
However, he said the provincial government had so far not notified rules for the functioning of the borstal institutions.
Despite the presence of the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance, 2000, and the Borstal Institution Act, 2012, the successive governments have failed to set up such institutions separate from the existing prisons.
Presently, juvenile sections have been functioning inside different prisons and have been supervised by the same prison officials, who have not been trained on juvenile delinquency.
Jehanzeb said a child offender should be kept behind bars as a last resort, but in Pakistan, the objective could not be achieved despite the promulgation of the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance around 15 years ago.
He said children continued to languish in prisons even in petty offences like theft.
Published in Dawn, October 13th , 2015