Judges voice concerns about overcrowded jails

Updated March 26, 2020

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Ask authorities to address issues without delay. — Creative Commons/File
Ask authorities to address issues without delay. — Creative Commons/File

PESHAWAR: Two administrative judges of the Peshawar High Court for prisons on Wednesday visited Mardan central prison and Swabi and Nowshera district jails in connection with the current outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19) and showed serious concern about the overcrowding of the places.

Justice Roohul Amin Khan and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim directed the relevant authorities to take all necessary measures on war footing to resolve the issue and ensure the speedy completion of the construction of prisons.

The judges have been visiting prisons to protect the basic rights of inmates in the current circumstances.

They’re accompanied by the relevant district and sessions judges, judicial magistrates, and additional inspector general of prisons Khalid Abbas.

The data shows that Mardan central prison has 2,636 inmates against the sanctioned capacity of 1,898, while 512 and 436 prisoners have been kept in Swabi and Nowshera jails respectively against the capacity of 130 persons each.

Ask authorities to address issues without delay

The judges inspected the newly-established quarantine barracks, where new prisoners are kept for a specific period in line with the standard operating procedures and protocols formulated by the government for the prevention and control of Covid-19.

They visited all barracks, including those for juvenile prisoners, and spoke to inmates.

The judges ordered the release of 18 prisoners facing minor offence charges through the camp court and put more than 20 cases of undertrial prisoners on fast track for speedy disposal by the relevant courts.

They noted down the complaints and applications of prisoners and asked the district and sessions judges concerned for early action on them.

The judges also early ordered action on the release of people kept in prisons either on probation or any other mode saying it will ease congestion in jails.

They examined hygienic conditions in jails and issued corrective measures in certain areas.

The judges asked the authorities to improve living conditions of prisoners by ensuring cleanliness and regular disinfection of places and provision of essential medicines over the fears of the outbreak of Covid-19.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2020