ISLAMABAD - The legal experts are of the view that the district judiciary’s role is important in improvement of dilapidated conditions of jails and bring reforms and creating awareness about the rights and privilege of prisoners permissible under the Jail Manual and evolving strategy for rehabilitation of prisoners.

They said the district judiciary should be encouraged to visit jails regularly even on holidays to boost the morale of prisoners and listen to their complaints and depict a willingness of the system to ensure the enforcement of prisoners’ fundamental rights.

Noshad Rana, senior advocate, talking to The Nation suggested that the strict time limits for the procedures between arrest and court proceeding need to be set out, disposal system should be established to ensure that cases are not delayed indefinitely. He said the district judiciary should be made accountable for granting remands mechanically and carelessly.

The Constitution guarantees the personal dignity and liberty of all human beings. The torture and inhuman treatment with prisoners are not only against Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN covenant on Civil and Political Rights but are also against the injunctions of Islam, he added.

Faisal Fareed, another lawyer recommends that the district judiciary should prepare regular monitoring reports detailing their findings, accomplishments and suggestions to duly appointed members of the superior judiciary. “Sentence plans should be prepared for prisoners at the beginning of their sentences to ensure that they are gainfully utilized and employed in community-building exercises to reduce the rate of recidivism.”

District Judiciary should extend the benefits of the probation and parole to deserving prisoners so they may be rehabilitated to the community at large. The district judiciary should inquire into the incidents where prisoners have not filed appeal on a case-to-case basis to find out its reasons and arrange legal assistance in appropriate cases to reduce instances of hardened criminals voluntarily going to jail to avoid gang warfare.

The district judiciary should ensure the inspection of barracks, cells, wards, cooked food, jail registers and record compliance of health and hygiene standards as inquire as to whether any prisoners is illegally detained or detained for any undue length of time.

The Bench and Bar should collaborate by inter alia nomination of lawyers by the judiciary to visit prisons as a part of a supervisory judicial role. Grievance boxes should be provided in every prison. “Solitary confinement and denial of privileges should not take place without judicial appraisal.”

The prisoner’s handbook should be prepared in local languages and copies should be circulated among prisoners to create awareness. The synopsis of basic rights and privileges of prisoners should be made available in Urdu, English and regional language on prison premises, awareness programs to educate prisoners should be held.

The transportation facilities for male and female prisoners must be arranged, utility stores within prisons premises may be established to eliminate over pricing and corruption.