Syed Tahir Shahbaz, the Federal Ombudsman, has said that biometric identification systems should be installed in all jails of KP and integrated with all departments of the criminal administrative justice system.
He chaired a high-level meeting in Chief Secretary Office Peshawar, along with Chief Secretary KP, Dr. Kazim Niaz, to review the progress and implementation status of the recommendations of the Prisons Reforms Committee as entrusted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The meeting was attended by the IG KP, IG Prisons KP, Home Secretary, Secretaries Law, Industries, Social Welfare, Health, and Secretary Wafaqi Mohtasib, Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, Senior Advisor, Ejaz A. Qureshi, and other stakeholders.
IG Prisons, Khalid Abbas, gave a detailed briefing through a presentation and informed that the overcrowding in jails had been reduced up to 37 percent due to the up-gradation of different jails. He said that during the current financial year, the under-construction jails of Swat and Hangu would ease the burden with 800 prisoners. He said that in the second phase, the Central Jails in Peshawar and D.I. Khan and District Jails in Swabi and Swat would be completed, whereas construction of District Jails in Tank, Shangla, and Upper Dir are in pipeline. He said that the Biometric Identification System had been installed in 14 jails, and an agreement has been signed with UNODC for up-gradation and extension of PMIS in all other jails of KP.
During the meeting, the progress of the Provincial, District Oversight Committees (DOC) and Welfare Committees to improve the life of prisoners, especially children, women, and destitute prisoners was discussed decisively with all the stakeholders of the province. He was informed that during the current quarter 56 visits were made by DOCs, 15 visits by Provincial Oversight Committees(POC), and five meetings were convened by the POC in the matter.
The IG Prisons informed that juveniles and women prisoners have already been segregated. Prisoners’ voluntary Donations Fund and Free Legal Aid Committee have been established and working with full spirit, he further apprised. He said that Rescue 1122 started emergency treatment in 05 Central Prisons, whereas patients with Viral diseases, i.e., Hepatitis B, V & HIV have been screened, and mini-labs have also been established in 12 jail hospitals.
He said that the provincial government of KP has already been exempted all prisoners from examination/verification fees. He said that 2598 prisoners have been imparted formal education from SSC to Masters Level and 1,040 prisoners completed their Nazira, Tarjuma, and Hifz-e-Quran. He informed the meeting that Rs. 70,52,551/- were donated in the last six months for release and payment for arsh, daman & diyyat for the destitute prisoners.
Syed Tahir Shahbaz, Federal Ombudsman, has applauded the performance of the IG Prisons and asked the provincial government for early completion of Prisoners Biometric Identification System and its integration with the concerned departments, i.e., Police, Prisons, Prosecution and NADRA, and development of a common interface for the prisoners throughout the chain from jails to courts within the shortest possible time.