Shireen Mazari stresses to eliminate malpractices of preferential treatment in prisons

The Federal Minister insisted that Prison IGs must share the reports of the oversight committees periodically for the Implementation Commission’s review and advised the prison authorities to ensure that transfers and postings of jail staff are happening on merit basis.

51

Islamabad: Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr. Shireen Mazari stresses eliminating practices of preferential treatment in prisons

Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr. Shireen Mazari chaired a meeting of the Implementation Commission on Prison Reforms in the Ministry of Human Rights. The meeting was attended by the Secretary Ministry of Human Rights, Director General (Human Rights), Joint Secretary Ministry of Interior, IG Prison KPK and Punjab, and other senior officers and representatives from provincial home departments, Ministry of Law, and Justice, and Ministry of NHSR&C. The Implementation Commission reviewed the grievance redressal mechanisms in prisons across Pakistan, the issues of overcrowding and discriminatory treatment of prisoners as well as the lack of sensitization of prison staff.

In the beginning, DG Human Rights briefed the participants on the grievance petition containing allegations of maltreatment of prisoners by jail authorities, corruption, and breaches of jail manual and rules that was filed in the Islamabad High Court by a prisoner in District Jail Bhakkar. The Federal Minister said that the provincial prison departments must review their grievance redressed mechanisms present in prisons across Pakistan to ensure that they are able to address all complaints of the prisoners. She also stressed that the oversight mechanism of prisons must be improved by devising an independent system where eminent members from civil society, social welfare institutions, and media must be included in its committees. She said that an effective oversight system should be enough to halt the malpractices and curb the opportunities of corruption in the prisons.

The Implementation Commission also discussed the issue of overcrowded barracks. The provincial representatives apprised the Federal Minister that a major cause of overcrowding in prisons was the huge number of under-trial prisoners. The IG Prison KP apprised the Minister that awarding parole was now mandatory in KP and this would greatly assist with the reduction of the prison population in the future.

Each provincial member also apprised the Commission of the recently introduced prison reforms and facilities by the prison administrations in all four provinces. They explained that due to security reasons some inmates are segregated and kept in isolation or even in solitary confinement whereas special prison rules are there for this purpose. The Federal Minister emphasized that the outdated and obsolete systems that justify the preferential treatment of convicts must be amended and stated that all convicts must be meted out with the same treatment. While referring to an influential convict’s hospital stay in Karachi, she said that there must be the non-discriminatory treatment of all prisoners. She praised the CM package that has recently been introduced in jails of Punjab and opined that the provinces may consider the KP model of eliminating all categories of prisoners.

The Federal Minister insisted that Prison IGs must share the reports of the oversight committees periodically for the Implementation Commission’s review and advised the prison authorities to ensure that transfers and postings of jail staff are happening on a merit basis.

For the humane treatment of prisoners by the prison staff and for educating the prisoners on their rights the Federal Minister assured that the Ministry of Human Rights can provide its forum and experts for arranging sensitization programs for prison staff. She also desired to make manuals and pamphlets carrying necessary information on the rights of prisoners available in jails both in Urdu and regional languages.

In her concluding remarks, she advised that other provinces should adopt the KPK model of non-discriminatory treatment in prisons.

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Newsletter
close-link