Federal Ombudsman reviews status of women, children in jails


LAHORE: The Federal Ombudsman Secretariat on Monday held a special meeting to review the status of women and children in jails across the country.

Federal Ombudsman Salman Faruqui chaired the meeting whereas former law minister S M Zafar was the guest of honour on the occasion.

Former provincial minister and social activist Shaheen Ateeq ur Rehman, social activist Begum Jaan, Rawalpindi DIG Jail Mirza Shahid Saleem Baig, Peshawar Superintendent Jail M Masood, Punjab Welfare Department Director General Waheed Ansari, Barrister Ali Zafar and the other concerned officials attended the meeting.

Addressing the meeting, Federal Ombudsman Salman Faruqui emphasised the need for the establishment of inspection committees that could easily monitor the jails. Many philanthropists wanted to support the cause of prisoners in the past but they did not consider jail authorities trust-worthy, therefore a proper system should be formulated for structuring the use of funds and items received from the philanthropists to eliminate these fears and to provide them with the opportunities to serve mankind, he added.

Salman Faruqui urged the provincial representatives to raise the issues related to fundamental rights in the parliament and national assembly and to adopt more positive approach towards the issues faced by prisoners and, the provision of basic human rights should not just be specific to any province, he added.

He stressed on the need for reforming jail culture, “the prisoners have to deal with the economic crisis after getting out”, he added. He said that many children were imprisoned along with their mothers and reforms should be made in this regard and the adequate implementation of these reforms should be ensured.

Former provincial minister and social activist Shaheen Ateeq ur Rehman proposed that the women prisoners should be divided into categories for the improvement of their conditions and further pointed out the lack of sanitation facilities in jails and the problem of overcrowding of the prisons.

Social activist Begum Jaan also gave a briefing in the meeting regarding the difficulties faced by women and children prisoners in FATA Jails.

Official Nasreen proposed that juvenile friendly systems should be introduced in the jails and regular inspections should also be carried out.

Another official Malik Asif Riaz informed that the measures had been taken to improve the quality of skills imparted to juveniles in jails with the cooperation of Comsat University. However, jails had been overcrowded and urgent steps were required in this regard.

Addressing the issue of overcrowding, Rawalpindi DIG Jail Mirza Shahid Saleem Baig informed that since the Supreme Court took suo motu notice in 2006, new jails had been constructed and the government had approved two more jails in the province and after their completion, the prison overcrowded ratio would drop.  He further said that many new facilities had been introduced for the children in jails, the lady doctors were appointed in jails and there had not been any shortage of the medicines and 19 jails had been exempted from load shedding whereas facility of generators had been provided in rest of the jails.

However, he admitted that there had been problems in the production of prisoners as juveniles before the court due to delays in their hearings.

Peshawar Superintendent Jail M Masood also gave a briefing in the meeting regarding the steps taken for the improvement of jail. He proposed that separate jails should be constructed for women and children to improve the situation.

Punjab Welfare Department Director General Waheed Ansari briefed the meeting about various programmes initiated for the children and the women in various jails across the Punjab.

However, the ombudsman asked the DG to monitor and evaluate programmes launched by various organisations in the jails.

Barrister Ali Zafar apprised the committee about pending proceedings in the Apex Court and said that the bench had asked the ombudsman to forward the recommendations for improving the situation in jails.

The guest of honour appreciated the services of Salman Faruqui as federal ombudsman.