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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC), Tuesday, sought a report on human rights abuses in prisons and expressed its dissatisfaction over a report submitted by the Ministry of Human Rights.

A single bench of Chief Justice Athar Minallah issued the directions, while hearing a petition of a prisoner, Dr Irfan Iqbal, who mentioned corruption and maltreatment of prisoners in Adiala jail.

The prisoner also pointed out the “illegal” activities of some influential prisoners and prayed before the court to direct the concerned authorities to take action against them.

During the hearing, the IHC chief justice asked that who is responsible for human rights violations in jails. He said that it seems the chief minister and chief executives are responsible for inhuman treatment in the prisons. He asked that why the victim prisoners are not paid compensation from the people responsible for inhuman treatment.

Justice Minallah remarked that the court had ruled over human rights abuses with prisoners an year ago. He added that a state could not subject its citizens to cruelty, if it is being happened, someone is responsible for it.

He observed that treatment with jail inmates is a living example of human rights violations. Later, the court summoned a report in the matter from the Ministry of Human Rights within a month and adjourned the hearing.

In an earlier report the Ministry of Human Rights submitted to the IHC, it was stated that there was a limit of 2,100 prisoners in Adiala Jail but 5,799 were housed there.

Previously, Justice Minallah noted in his order, “It appears from the contents of the petition as if the prisons, instead of functioning as centres of reformation and social rehabilitation, have become epicentres of crime, corruption and corrupt practices.”

“The assertions indicate the phenomenon of enabling the powerful and privileged to exploit the system with the support of the prison authorities. While the latter exploit the system with impunity, the marginalised and vulnerable inmates become victims of grave violation of human rights. Such a phenomenon is intolerable in a society governed under the Constitution,” maintained the IHC chief justice.

He added that this Court had no reason to doubt that the Implementation Commission, headed by the worthy Minister for Human Rights, Government of Pakistan, would ensure that impunity against the grave violation of human rights highlighted in the judgment titled, Khadim Hussain vs Secretary, Ministry of Human Rights Islamabad, would come to an end and the officials responsible for such acts held accountable.

The bench observed that allegations/assertions stated in the petition by the prison inmate are shocking and speak volumes for the grave violations of human rights in the prisons. It continued that it appears that the phenomenon of elite capture prevails in the prisons across the country despite the fact that an Implementation Commission, headed by the worthy Minister for Human Rights, was expected to ensure treatment of the prisoners in conformity with the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 and the commitments of the State of Pakistan pursuant to ratification of the treaties and conventions highlighted in paragraphs 4 to 11 of the judgment of this Court titled “Khadim Hussain vs Secretary, Ministry of Human Rights Islamabad, etc”.

The court noted that the State owes a duty of care to every prisoner regardless of his or her nature of imprisonment. Most of the prisoners in the prisons across the country are, admittedly, under trial accused and they are presumed to be innocent.

“It is only liberty and the right of freedom of movement that has been curtailed in case of incarcerated persons and definitely not the constitutional right to life and to be treated with respect, having regard to the dignity of a human guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution,” maintained the bench.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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