RAWALPINDI: The Punjab police have been directed to get suspects’ biometrics verified by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) before shifting them to prisons across the province.
A directive to the police said jail authorities will not accept any suspects without a certified copy of their biometric verification, official sources told Dawn.
They said a copy of an individual’s CNIC or Form B is mandatory with a small fee to have biometrics verified by Nadra.
According to jail authorities, they do not have a system in place to verify the identities of prisoners. The provincial authorities have therefore sought assistance from the federal government and Nadra.
They said the directed police to have the biometrics of suspects verified before bringing them to a prison in light of orders from the Lahore High Court.
But a senior prison department official said that under prison rules, they cannot refuse custody of a suspect because the police cannot keep anyone in their custody for more than three days.
“Biometric verification is very important and the identity of the accused is one of the three major components of the criminal justice system,” he said, adding that verifying the identity of a suspect should be ensured at police stations to prevent impersonation.
The new directives have led to confusion among the police, who believe it would be a problem for them to first go to Nadra to have suspects’ identities verified and them take them to prison before sunset, since prison authorities do not accept any prisoner after that.
Inspector General of Prisons Punjab Shahid Saleem Baig told Dawn that they are trying to introduce an integrated prison management system in the province, through which prison administrations would be able to store prisoner records in a data bank.
Mr Baig said the system aims to enhance the capabilities of prison administrations in terms of monitoring and security of inmates. It would also help administrations ensure that prisoners are not impersonated, through verification and authentication of prisoners using thumb impressions and photographs.
“After the integrated system, jail authorities will know if a prisoner was released from any prisoners in the past and has been imprisoned again elsewhere,” he added.
A biometric attendance system has been installed and the data entry process of staff and prisoners is underway, and jail authorities said this would help keep records of prisoners released and those shifted between different jails.
Published in Dawn, December 21st, 2019