LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday sought a report from the Punjab Prisons Department about the latest state of mental health of a 56-year-old death row prisoner suffering from schizophrenia.

The Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), a non-profit organisation working for prisoners rights, filed a petition on behalf of Khizar Hayat, the condemned prisoner, with a request for his shifting to a secure mental health treatment facility.

Representing the JPP, Barrister Sarah Belal stated the jail authorities, psychiatric experts and a court-sanctioned examination at the Punjab Institute of Mental Health in July 2016 had unanimously concluded that Hayat suffered from psychosis and schizophrenia.

She said it had been repeatedly requested that Hayat be shifted to a secure mental health facility where he could receive the required treatment.

The Kot Lakhpat central jail medical officer also stated before the court that several boards found the prisoner to be schizophrenic, suffering from the debilitating psychiatric disorder.

At this, the court directed the prisons department to furnish the current mental state of the prisoner by April 12.

Sentenced to death in 2003 over shooting of a fellow police officer, Hayat has spent nearly 15 years on death row. He suffers manic episodes, speaking loudly and uncontrollably. Hayat was first diagnosed as a schizophrenic in 2008 by jail medical authorities. He suffers from delusions and has to be heavily medicated.

In 2010, the jail medical officer had also recommended that Hayat needed specialised treatment and should be shifted to the psychiatric facility. However, this was never done.

JPP spokesperson Rimmel Mohydin said Khizar stopped showing signs of improvement from the medication prescribed by jail authorities that were not equipped to handle a treatment-resistant case of schizophrenia like his. She said he was undoubtedly of unsound mind, and had been for the past ten years. She said he must be shifted to a mental health facility where he could get the treatment he so badly needed.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2018