PM for prison reforms


WHILST Prime Minister Imran Khan has repeatedly declared to remove facilities such as AC and TV from the prison cells of influential political prisoners facing jail on corruption charges, the Cabinet on Tuesday took some decisions showing the government feels differently for the impoverished prisoners.
The Cabinet constituted a Special Committee to recommend prison reforms after inspecting the conditions of prisons and the process will be completed in consultation with provincial governments. It also decided to provide free legal assistance to the destitute prisoners. Certainly, it is not the first time that we are hearing about prison reforms. On the directions of the Supreme Court, the Federal Ombudsman had also recently furnished a set of recommendations to improve the overall environment in prisons but the regrettable part is that the implementation phase has once again emerged as the biggest obstacle. The Ombudsman’s recommendations were very much reformative rather than punitive in nature as it included suggestions such as provision of education to inmates as well as construction of jails in every district. The Ombudsman had also recommended that prisoners should be given a proper place for rest while other facilities should be made in line with health standards. Indeed the reforms should be such that focus primarily on the rehabilitation of prisoners and make them law abiding citizens of the society instead of leaving them stuck in a cycle of crime and deprivation. Similarly, the Sindh Assembly has recently approved a very comprehensive Bill on jail prisons. Both of these are important documents and we will ask the Special Committee to also study them before giving final touches to their own set of reforms which must not remain a piece of paper but also be implemented in toto with the cooperation of provinces to really bring a change in the overall environment of the prisons which are currently brimming with disease and illness, both physical and psychological due to overcrowding and lack of basic amenities to the inmates. These prisoners are also human beings and they should be treated like humans.

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