IHC forms implementation body on jail reforms

Updated January 21, 2020

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The IHC observed that the report unambiguously showed that conditions in the prisons were "shocking". — Creative Commons/File
The IHC observed that the report unambiguously showed that conditions in the prisons were "shocking". — Creative Commons/File

ISLAMABAD: The chief justice of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has observed that the miserable condition of prisoners detained in different jails across the country is “a classic example of lack of rule of law”.

In the written order sheet, issued on Monday, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah expressed serious concerns over the presence of prisoners suffering from fatal diseases.

“It is alarming that a large number of prisoners are suffering from fatal diseases such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), tuberculosis (TB) and hepatitis,” the court noted.

On Saturday, Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari submitted a report before Justice Minallah highlighting the plight of prisoners in jails across the country.

Chief justice laments ‘miserable’ condition of prisoners

“Amongst the total prison population, there are currently almost 2,100 prisoners with physical ailments, approximately 2,400 inmates who are suffering from contagious diseases like HIV, hepatitis and tuberculosis and approximately 600 prisoners who suffer from mental diseases,” the report said.

The IHC judge observed that the report unambiguously showed that conditions in the prisons were “shocking”. “The prisoners are being subjected to intolerable conditions of detention, which are seriously prejudicing their right to life and inviolability of dignity. The report indicated the apathy, disregard and indifference of state functionaries towards ordinary citizens.”

Justice Minallah observed that it was the duty of the federal government to ensure that commitments of the state of Pakistan under the ratified conventions were implemented.

While recording appreciation for the commission, headed by Ms Mazari, for submitting the report, the court converted the inquiry commission to ‘Implementation Commission’ for ensuring that the recommendations were complied with so that the commitments of the state of Pakistan under the ratified conventions were fulfilled.

The court issued the directions that the Implementation Commission shall at the earliest hold a meeting and seek reports from the respective chief secretaries of the provinces — who are also members of the Commission — regarding implementation of the recommendations made in the report.

The commission shall take immediate steps in consultation with the federal ministry of health and the chief secretaries of the respective provinces regarding those prisoners who are suffering from fatal illnesses such as HIV, TB and hepatitis, the court order said.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2020