ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that people’s confidence in the country’s judicial system has almost been shaken, and constituted two committees to suggest constitutional reforms and look into the plight of women prisoners and recommend remedial steps for the purpose.
The committee comprising PM’s Adviser on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan and Law Minister Farogh Naseem will suggest constitutional reforms and devise a roadmap for implementation of these reforms.
It will meet next week and important decisions will be taken in the light of its recommendations.
The decision to form the two committees was taken at a meeting presided over by the prime minister on Friday.
The prime minister directed the committee on constitutional reforms to devise a roadmap for prompt implementation of reforms in the criminal justice system, police culture, registration of cases, investigation and prison system.
Two committees formed to suggest reforms for judicial system and women prisoners’ wellbeing
Mr Khan said that it was the manifesto of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) to ensure provision of easy justice to the people, specially the weak segments of society.
“The confidence of people has almost been shaken in the country’s judicial system and now they are looking towards the PTI government for improvement in the system,” an official press release quoted the prime minister as saying.
Earlier, the law minister gave a briefing on reforms to the prime minister and said that a timeframe had been set for disposal of cases after implementing reforms in the system.
He also apprised the meeting on reforms being made for improving conditions of women prisoners and issues of their inheritance.
The other committee, according to the Prime Minister Office (PMO), would look at the plight of women prisoners, whether convicted or awaiting trials, in the overall context of gender bias prevalent in society at large.
“Therefore, there is a genuine need to put in place institutional arrangements to address the issue in a comprehensive manner,” said an official press release issued by the PMO.
The committee comprising seven members is headed by federal minister for human rights (as chairperson); secretary, Ministry of Human Rights (as secretary of the committee); secretary, Ministry of Interior; home secretaries of governments of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan; inspectors general of police of prisons, Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and Gilgit-Baltistan; Sarah Belal and Haya Zahid.
The chairperson may co-opt any person as member of the committee.
Terms of Reference (ToRs) of the committee are: To assess whether prison rules, Code of Criminal Procedure-1898 and international best practices are being adhered to with respect to women prisoners, especially their protection, rights, health, security, and wellbeing;
To ensure that gender-specific services are available for women prisoners addressing their physical, psychological, emotional, and sociological needs;
To review prison rules and other relevant laws with a view to suggesting gender-specific changes in order to bring improvements in these rules for women inmates;
To review the overall governance, legal aid and management systems/processes in prison administration, especially with regard to women prisoners and to suggest improvements;
To review individual cases of human rights violations and victimisation of women inmates and suggest measures for institutional accountability;
To review the situation of children accompanying women in jails and work to help mainstream such children, especially with regard to their education and social integration;
To suggest comprehensive and workable system of governance of prisons in the country with a view to ameliorating the plight of women in prison; and To review post-release programmes to ensure that women prisoners are able to adjust in society after they leave the prison.
The press release said that besides TORs, the chairperson could assign any other task to the committee which will be in the interest of the welfare and protection of women prisoners.
The committee will submit its report to the prime minister in four months.
Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2020