Experts call for prison reforms
The workshop was attended by Chief Justice of Sindh High Court Justice Sabihuddin Ahmad, judges of the SHC, district courts, judicial magistrates, civil society activists and government officials. The inspector-general for prisons, Mohammad Yameen, speaking at the workshop said that the jails in Karachi had the authorised capacity for only 6,000 prisoners, but the existing number of prisoners was 20,000.
Giving the examples of some foreign countries, he said prisoners were being provided with proper diet, medical and even attached toilet facilities, but the situation here was different due to lack of resources. In order to address the problems of prisoners, the IG proposed that there was a need of quick disposal of the pending cases, arrangement of trials for the high-profile prisoners, and to improve the system of production of prisoners before the courts.
About the death incidents in the jails, the IG said that some 49 people had died, most of whom were drug addicts.
Answering questions about the supply of drugs and corrupt practices by jail staff, the IG said: “I cannot say that all of the staff members are 100 per cent honest. But the drugs are being supplied to the prisoners most probably by their relatives when they are kept in the courtyard for appearance in courts”.
Social worker and president of the Lawyer for Human Rights and Legal Aid Zia Ahmad Awan expressed his dismay over the pathetic conditions in the jails and said the prisons seemed to have been abandoned by the government and the prisoners were being treated like slaves.
He gave many examples of the situation in foreign jails and said that in our country the situation was very disappointing and it needed better attention of the government. He mentioned scores of instances of social evils existing in the jails like sexual abuses of juvenile offenders, violence against inmates, use of drugs, lack of toilets, accommodation, medical facilities and food facilities.
He said he feared that if the situation was not reformed soon it would leave a very negative impact on society.
The superintendent of the central jail, Nusrat Mangan, counted a number of problems being faced by the prisoners due to non-availability of the basic facilities. He asked civil society organisations to come forward and help solve problems of the inmates.
Qamar Shah, head of the juvenile offenders jail, proposed setting up of vocational training facilities, a library, medical and furniture facilities in the section.
Uzma Hafeez, officer-in-charge of the special women prison, in her speech highlighted the problems of women prisoners and asked for quick disposal of their cases.