Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that he has directed authorities to take steps to release female prisoners, both under-trial and convicted, in line with a Supreme Court order issued in April.
In a two-part tweet, the premier said that he had issued the directions after a meeting with the Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari, the attorney general and Barrister Ali Zafar.
"I have asked for immediate implementation of SC order 299/2020 for release of under-trial women prisoners and convicted women prisoners who fulfill criteria of SC order," he tweeted.
The premier also asked for "immediate reports on foreign women prisoners and women on death row for humanitarian consideration".
Human Rights Minister Mazari hailed the prime minister's decision, calling it a "great move forward for human rights and humanitarian approach to prisoners". She further said that PM Imran has also asked the ministry to provide him with "a complete timeline on prison reforms implementation".
"This is just the start. PM has asked for a complete timeline on prison reforms implementation — our report on prison reforms is ready & now going to prepare implementation timelines with Barrister Ali Zafar," Mazari tweeted.
The prime minister was referring to an interim order issued in April, in which the apex court had directed the government to release the following:
prisoners suffering from a physical or mental illness
under-trial prisoners who are 55 or older
male under-trial prisoners who have not been convicted in the past
female and juvenile prisoners
The top court had in April recalled bails granted to prisoners by the high courts of Sindh and Islamabad in order to evacuate over-crowded prisons and prevent a coronavirus outbreak. However, it allowed the government to release prisoners who matched the afore-mentioned criteria.
The prisoners included in the above categories had been spared on the counsel of the attorney general of Pakistan. The AGP had also recommended the apex court to not extend bails to prisoners who had been accused in "cases involving abuse/violent acts against children and women".