Hudood, Zina Ordinance detainees still awaiting release
KARACHI, July 12 2006: A list of approximately 80 prisoners detained under the Hudood and Zina Ordinance was sent to the City Court and the prisoners will be freed after the announcement of the courtÂ’s decision. The number of inmates to be released, as mentioned earlier, was 26 but after thorough scrutiny of their cases, the number increased to 80. “We have sent a general list to the court after proper scrutiny and now the court is to decide how many prisoners would exactly be released under certain terms and conditions,” said Jail Superintendent Sheeba Shah.
The legal processing, she said, might take a few weeks because the inmates would have to deposit some surety for their bail that would not be accepted in the form of cash. They can only furnish their bail after producing a guarantee in the form of saving certificates, documents of a house or car in the name of the third person. Talking to The News, Chief Justice (Retd) Nasir Aslam Zahid working for Human Rights, said that not many female prisoners would benefit from this law because 90 percent of the inmates do not have a financially sound background and hence would not be able to produce any document for surety. So this order of release will bring no relief to them.
He said that parliamentarians could make a difference by pointing out the flaws in the ordinance and passing the bill of the amended ordinance in the National Assembly to make it a part of the Constitution before it expires in four months time. “On November 6, 2006 this offence would be considered as non-bailable again and so something must be done to prevent this unfair treatment with not only the female prisoners but those detained in the male and juvenile prison too,” he said. He said that this law had no justification from the perspective of religion because Islamic Law does not allow the prisoner to be put behind bars until he or she is proved guilty.
He added that the government and the judiciary should consider this and provide the prisoners with the help they need. Approximately 27 inmates could have been released if an amount of around 280,000 rupees would have been provided by the government but they remain stuck because they have no one to help them. “Philanthropists should also come forward to help the female prisoners furnish this bail with the provision of this surety,” he said.
Bilquis Edhi of Edhi Foundation added that it is unfair to imprison and detain these women who are considered vulnerable because they belong to an underprivileged class of our society and are hence unable to fight for their rights and are taken advantage of financially. She has appealed to the president to reconsider this amendment that is creating hindrance in the legal proceedings of their release. She further added that Edhi Foundation was willing to provide financial help to the prisoners and has offered to put them up in their shelter homes across the country.
Source: The News