2847 prisoners diagnosed with hepatitis in the Jails of Sindh: speakers

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KARACHI: In the month of April this year, the Sindh Assembly was apprised that 2847 prisoners were suffering from Hepatitis in different jails of Sindh. It was also learnt that in the dispensary of the Central Jail, only 6 types of life-saving medicine are available to treat prisoners.

According to statistics of 2017 security personnel seized about 700 televisions and LCD’s, 102 mobile phones, 82 speakers, 18 deep freezers, 3 DVD and Xbox players, 31 water dispenses, more than a dozen water coolers, 56 tons of ration, 10 illegal kitchen and 163 gas cylinders during a raid in Central Jail, Karachi”, said Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan Aamir Aziz Khan.

He was addressing the audience at a seminar organized by the Department of Centre of Human Rights, Faculty of Law themed as “Behind Bars: A Critical Review of Jail from the Inside” at Ziauddin University.

While talking about the legal issues surrounding prisoners and prisoners rights in the context of Pakistan he affirmed that the new law for Sindh is called Sindh Prisons and Correction Act 2019 replaced the Prison Act 1894 in Sindh.

According to the new draft law, the concept of correctional facilities and rehabilitation of prisoners in Sindh is introduced, necessary measures for medical conditions, general sanitation, appropriate lighting, ventilation and heating along with separate toilets shall be ensured. Under the new law, IG Prison will be empowered to shift prisoners from one Jail to another on Medical grounds. Prisoners will also be able to request for transfer to other jails. Reformation of Prisoners shall be guaranteed.

“Rehabilitation and social integration of prisoners into the mainstream is the biggest challenge in Pakistan. The majority of the jails in Pakistan are overcrowded. Available funds to jails are barely sufficient to fulfil the nutritional requirements of prisoners. Thus initiation of any in prison rehabilitation program by Jail authorities is a distant dream. Keeping in view the higher needs, we devised Prisoners Welfare & Rehabilitation Program under which training of prisoners are carried out and they are taught employable skills to enable their reintegrate in society after their release from prison.” said Director Al Khidmat Karachi, Qazi Syed Sadaruddin. He has been leading efforts to assist prisons in rehabilitation with different projects for over 2 decades.

“During the last 14 years, more than 3,000 prisoners have been trained in our centers. Besides certificates from the Technical Board of Education, these prisoners also were provided remission in their jail terms on the basis of their training. I can proudly say that today many prisoners out of captivity are getting lawful and honorable jobs in the society” he carried out

While talking about the International framework and basic principles for the treatment of Prisoners, Director of Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law Ziauddin University, Syed Muaz Shah claimed that All prisoners shall be treated with the respect due to their inherent dignity and value as human beings.

“There shall be no discrimination on the grounds of race, color, gender, language, religion, political or another opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or another status. Respect the religious beliefs of prisoners. They shall have access to the health services available in the country. All prisoners shall have the right to take part in cultural activities and education aimed at the full development of the human personality,” he added.

While sharing his personal experience during imprisoned for 2.5 years and after getting bailed and becoming an upstanding citizen Rizwan Ahmed shared the most trembling and heart-wrenching first-hand information and poor condition of jail by saying that there are major problems which need to be fixed like Prisons are overcrowded in our jails.

Problems like sanitation, disease, food scarcity, violence. Prisoners are all mixed up in barracks. There is a lack of professional capacity of Prison staff to rehabilitate, psychology and communicates skills also an acute shortage of medical facilities. Unwarranted physical torture on prisoners is very common.

Prisons are state within state where comfort rests on the bank accounts. It’s very difficult for prisoners to meet their families. Clear denial of legal aid to the Prisoners was also been observed by him.

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