Jails across Pakistan overcrowded: Report

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Islamabad, May 9 (IANS) Jails in Pakistan house 57 per cent more prisoners than their authorised capacity and two-thirds of the total prison population is either awaiting or undergoing trial as compared to 27 per cent at the international level, according to a report.

The report, prepared by the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Cursor Development and Education (CODE) Pakistan, said overcrowding in prisons often results in deplorable living conditions for inmates and prison staff, spread of disease and other problems, Dawn news reported on Wednesday.

‘Addressing Overcrowding in Prisons by Reducing Pre-Conviction Detention in Pakistan’ also said that in order to prevent a major health crisis in Pakistan’s eight most overcrowded prisons — exhibiting an occupancy rate 300 per cent to 500 per cent higher than official capacity — there should be an urgent prison assessment to ensure prisoners’ quarters were well-ventilated.

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It also recommended each inmate received 10 to 15 litres of water daily, sufficient hygienic food, adequate toilets, access to open air during the day, medical care and the presence of emergency evacuation.

Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan Secretary Mohammad Raheem Awan said the commission was compiling data on prisons and working to complete criminal hearings.

ICRC head Reto A. Stocker said prison overcrowding leads to physical and mental problems for prisoners because they face continuous unrest. He said a broad-range response was required from all the stakeholders to address the issue.

–IANS

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