Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah has said that there is ‘no rule of law’ in jails, decrying the crowded facilities and frequent human rights abuses in the prison system.
A report by the Ministry of Human Rights was submitted to the IHC at Wednesday’s hearing detailing the human rights situation in Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, based largely on the accounts drawn from a letter written by a prisoner there.
Also known as Central Jail Rawalpindi, figures presented to the IHC showed that Adiala jail is a staggering 257 per cent over capacity, housing 5,799 prisoners in a space built for close to 2,000. Many of these prisoners are still awaiting trials.
At the hearing, the Ministry reported on insights from the fact-finding commission it created on a previous directive of the court.
The chief justice commented on the prisoner’s letter, stating that the missive highlighted the lack of ‘rule of law’ in the jail system, a matter he termed an issue of human rights. He questioned possible solutions to curtail the rampant corruption in jails, noting that not even the jail manual was being implemented.
Media access to prisoners, although currently restricted, was suggested by the bench as a possible remedy for the ongoing mistreatment of the incarcerated.
Chief Justice Minallah has remarked at a previous hearing that jails in Pakistan had become “epicentres of crimes, corruption and corrupt practices” where the elite were able to afford preferential treatment from prison authorities.