A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, hearing a suo motu case regarding the miserable conditions of women prisoners in the country’s jails, has appointed senior lawyer Asma Jahangir as amicus curiae and directed the provincial governments to file comprehensive report in this matter.
While submitting a report before the bench, headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Assistant Advocate General Punjab Mudhasir Khalid Abbasi said that 823 women are confined in 31 prisons of Punjab. Of these 61 are condemned prisoners, 172 are convicted, 586 are under trial and four are internees.
Similarly, 113 women prisoners are detained along with 130 children. A copy of the report is available with The Express Tribune.
The report says that one prison in Multan is exclusively reserved for women inmates. However, 31 prisons are for under-trial women prisoners. After the trial and conviction by the courts, the prisoners are shifted to the women prison in Multan, where they are trained in different trades for their successful rehabilitation in society upon their release. The management of the Multan prison is totally in the hands of women officers.
The report also claims that at present not a single woman prisoner confined in Punjab is suffering from any mental/psychiatric disorder.
It notes that the children accompanying their prisoner mothers aged up to six years are provided education inside the jail while children above six years of age are shifted to an SOS Village for further education.
“The government of Punjab has taken unprecedented steps to reduce overcrowding in prisons including those reserved for women prisoners. The construction of 12 new jails including high security jail in Sahiwal, Mianwali and a sub-jail in Shujabad is at different stages of completion. Through this mega project, additional accommodation for 11,500 prisoners will be created to reduce overcrowding to a great extent,” says the report.
Over the last five years, a total of 2,711 prisoners, including women inmates, were released after the payment of Rs118.149 million provided by the provincial government and philanthropists.
The Punjab government has claimed that at present, no woman or juvenile prisoner is confined in the province in lieu of unpaid Diyat, Arsh, Daman and fine.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2015.
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