ISLAMABAD-The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has directed the federal ministry of human rights to prepare a report about the death of under-custody and condemned prisoners.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah issued these directions while hearing the identical applications of two prisoners.

The IHC bench also directed the ministry to apprise the court about the condition of the inmates especially those suffering from life-threatening diseases and whether they were given proper medical treatment or not.

During the hearing, Justice Athar observed that influential inmates got better treatment while common prisoners could not get even basic facilities. He remarked that when a prisoner approached the court and complained about the lack of basic facilities it meant the government was not doing its job.

The judge advised the ministry to prepare a policy for providing medical treatment to seriously ill prisoners, adding that it was also in conformity with the teachings of Islam. He asked the jail authorities if any probe was carried out in case of death of an inmate. At this, the jail authorities said that the district and sessions judge concerned assigned the inquiry to a judicial magistrate over such an incident. The doctor serving at Adiala Jail informed the bench that he had dealt with five cases and they were given the treatment in accordance with prison rules.

Justice Athar directed the jail authorities that in case a prisoner filed an application it should be forwarded to the commission constituted by the IHC.

The IHC bench directed the ministry to notify the commission to examine the state of civil liberties for prisoners.

It was November 30 when the ministry had submitted the notification of the commission headed by Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari while secretaries to the ministries of human rights, health and interior, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s ex-chairperson Zohra Yousaf, journalist Ghazi Salahuddin, advocate Zia Awan, FIA’s former director general Tariq Khosa and all chief secretaries would be its members.

The representative of the ministry informed the court that Khosa and Ms Yousaf citing personal reasons recused to become part of the commission.

As per the terms of reference of the commission it can “investigate human rights violations in the prisons of Pakistan and lack of medical assistance and obstacles in access to a court of law of prisoners who do not have means or assistance in this regard.”

The commission will investigate “failure on part of the executive authorities and respective government to fulfil obligations and enforce the Prison Rules and the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 regarding the prisoners who suffer from illness and diseases.”

It will “carry out a review of the prison rules and other relevant laws with the objective of fulfilling the commitments of the State of Pakistan under the Constitution, international treaties and conventions and would propose solutions to deal with human rights violations in the prisons and amendments in any law, rules or regulation, appropriate governance and management system.”

According to the notification, the commission will suggest “how to ensure individual and institutional accountability” as well.

Later, the IHC bench deferred hearing till January 18 for further proceedings in this matter.