Women in jails await release on probation
PESHAWAR, Sept 24: The non-implementation of the Probation of Offenders Ordinance, 1960, has been delaying the release on probation of women prisoners jailed in different cases, according to legal circles. Experts say the ordinance provides for the release on probation of a woman convicted of offence other than one punishable with death. One of the major hurdles in the implementation of this law is said to be the non-appointment of a female probation officer in the province. The country has only two female probation officers and both have been performing duties in Punjab. According to rules, a woman offender can only be placed under the supervision of a female probation officer.
Before the enactment of this ordinance, courts were empowered under section 562 of the Criminal Procedure Code to release offenders, including women, on probation. Following the promulgation of the Probation of Offenders Ordinance, however, this section stood repealed. A lawyer dealing with criminal cases said that after the promulgation of the Juvenile justice System Ordinance, 2000, responsibilities of probation officers have been increased. Under the law, soon after arresting a juvenile offender the police have to inform the probation officer and family members of the offender. In the absence of a female probation officer, several juvenile offenders have now been in a disadvantaged position. On the one hand there is no separate section for female juvenile offenders, on the other they could not be released on probation under the supervision of a male officer. A probation officer said there were only 13 probation officers in the province to deal with a growing number of offenders placed under their supervision by the trial courts. He said the burden on prison would be reduced to a great extent if the law has been implemented.