Islamabad - The authorities have noted pathetic condition of prisoners, particularly women, in jails all over the country.

In the absence of a regulatory framework in relation to the prison conditions and non-implementation of prison laws and rules, prisoners’ welfare seems a distant dream.

Most of the prisons in the country are overcrowded, as the successive governments failed to set up more prisons. Majority prisons were constructed during the British era and could not see any extension despite the fact that population has increased with the passage of time.

The official documents depict horrific situation inside the country prisons with jail committee in districts are not properly functioning.

Women are raped by jail staff in prisons. Men, especially in rural regions run the affairs of women prisons under the direct control of superintendent prison, read the official documents available with The Nation.

The issue of prisons’ condition was discussed during a recently held inter-ministerial and inter-provincial meeting of the stakeholders at ministry of human rights. 

Overcrowding of prisons has been observed as one of the most serious issues which lead to multiple problems. According to the LJCP report and official statistics, by the end of April 2015, there were 80,169 prisoners as against the sanctioned capacity of 46,705 in country’s prisons out of which 69.1 per cent were under trial. There is no psychiatric ward in Sindh prisons, the meeting was told.

The meeting expressed great concern over what was termed unexplained or suspicious deaths in prisons and denial of medical treatment and adequate food to the prisoners. According to the HRCP, 65 prisoners died in the country’s prisons during 2015 out of which 46 were stated to have died due to various diseases while four had died because of torture by prison staff and one succumbed to beating by fellow inmates.

The meeting lamented that lack of training of police on human rights, including prohibition of torture, leads to the plight of the prisoners.

“The 3rd degree exercise of investigation is common, physical remand means the police are legally entitled to beat and torture the accused person in police custody and to extract evidence or create fears in the mind of accused so that he bribes the investigation officers,” lamented the participants of the meeting as they discussed plight of the inmates.

The meeting was told that fake encounter and extrajudicial killings by police continue in 2015.

The HRCP noted killing of 2108 men and seven women in 2015 across Pakistan but there was no investigation into the cases. According to the Punjab Gender Parity Report, 2016, incidents of torture on women have increased by 20 per cent as compared to 2015.

In 2013, more than 5800 cases of violence against women were reported in Punjab. Those cases represented 74 per cent of the national total that year, the meeting was further told.