NCHR conducts follow-up visit to Adiala Jail to probe ‘suicide’ case of a convict

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Zubair Qureshi

Representatives of National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) visited the Death Cell of Central Jail, Adiala to probe the suicide case of an inmate convicted under PPC 302 for murdering three minors.

On the directions of NCHR Chairperson Rabiya Javeri Agha, the NCHR team, including Chief Coordinator Ghulam Murtaza Rana and Law Officer Mian Waqar Ahemd, visited the Central Jail to follow up on the improvements made in the Central Jail in the light of Islamabad High Court directions. The team also visited the Death Cell and examined the investigation reports of the suicide case of prisoner Nadeem Ahmad. They met the witnesses and jail administration regarding the case.

The NCHR team was informed that Nadeem Ahmed committed suicide by hanging himself in the washroom of Cell Number 8 on January 1, while other inmates were busy meeting their relatives during the meeting hours.

The investigation report by the Jail authorities shows that Nadeem suffered from psychiatric issues and was on medical/psychiatric treatment. It says that since Nadeem’s punishment, no family members had ever come to meet him. It appears that he undertook suicide due to severe depression.

The NCHR team also met with the officials of jail administration, jail doctors and physiologists and interviewed a number of prisoners. While talking to NCHR team, prisoners who filed complaints in IHC and NCHR, reported considerable positive change in the behavior of jail officials. The team noted that despite directions issues by IHC for improvement in medical facilities, only one doctor was available in the jail hospital and some of the basic medicines like insulin and psychiatric medications were out of stock.

The report submitted by the visiting NCHR team states that there was only one female psychiatric officer working in the jail on attachment basis. The report says that overcrowding still exists in the jail as there were about 6000 prisoners against the available space of about 2200 prisoners. It mentions that, despite IHC directions, no action had been taken so far for the transfer of prisoners to their home districts, particularly to prisons in KP. However, the jail administration informed the NCHR team that the construction work of the new barracks has been accelerated with the provision of sufficient funds from the Punjab government.

The contractor and Deputy Superintendent Jail assured the visiting team that the construction work of three barracks will be completed by June 30, 2023. The jail authorities said that a separate jail for women is also under construction.

The report mentions that, as per IHC directions, the number of telephone booths for prisoners has been increased from 20 to 50 but all 50 booths were not functional at the time of visit due to some technical issue. The in-charge of the facility assured NCHR team that all booths would be fully functional within a week. He also assured that separate telephone booth will be installed in each barrack. The report recommends creation of permanent posts and appointment of psychiatrists as per the need of inmates.

It also urges the provision of sufficient resources for construction of new barracks and recommends keeping drug addicts involved in heinous crimes separate from other children in the Juvenile Ward.