Democracy & Prison

Democracy & Prison

NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations

Democracy

Understanding of democracy in Pakistan is still underdeveloped and Pakistani parliamentarians need to address the country's problems of education and poverty.

These views were expressed by IHRO. The IHRO describes itself as an organization that helps local organizations attain the goal of liberalism, human rights and freedom of opinion and expression.

Internal democracy in political parties should be the first step towards democracy everywhere. "In Pakistan , it looks like political parties are being ruled and dominated by rich families," "That is a major mistake."

About the role of the military, in developed countries, the military was not allowed to intervene in government. However, in Pakistan it was different as the chief of army staff is also the president.

Pakistan must also address issues of discriminatory laws and honor killing. Civil society would have to work as a group to put pressure on the government to focus on these issues. According to IHRO education and poverty are key issues for Pakistan . "Parliament has its special role in making decisions on such issues. However, it looks like Pakistani parliamentarians are not able to recognize that they are responsible for these issues."

IHRO and its work in Pakistan , focuses to make a foundation for ideas on liberty and freedom. The South Asia project includes six countries in the region their main objectives were that citizens should be able to live together in an open society: the civic society. "We promote respect for human rights. Individual freedom should be accessible to all, connected with individual responsibility of everyone. There should be civic education for all citizens and equal opportunities from the start," wants to restrict the role of the state to its essentials. Democratic rules all over society, free market economy, including information, technology, goods and services, freedom of opinion, including freedom of press and media and freedom in human dignity in all sectors of society."

IHRO motive is the realization of these liberal values that would help people live in freedom and welfare and that would help society prosper and be fair. To realize these values in Pakistan , IHRO had collaborated with six partner organizations.

Prison

A Research Officer of IHRO visited the Adyala Jail, Rawalpindi , Central Jail, Kot Lakhpat, Lahore and Central Jail, Peshawar and collected information from the prison officials and jail inmates on the conditions prevailing in jails. A Joint Secretary of this Secretariat also visited the Women Prisons in Lahore and Karachi and gathered information with regard to conditions inside such prisons and the treatment meted out to prisoners.

On the direction of the Chairman, the Committee also conducted Public Hearing at Karachi on 14th May 2003 on the subject of jail reforms in which 21 prominent citizens, experts, advocates, journalists, professionals, NGO representatives and a retired High Court Judge, made presentations and suggested various proposals for reform of the prison laws/rules and improving the living conditions of prisoners.

Based on the material received from various sources, information gathered through visits to jails, communications received from the public, experiences/observations narrated by citizens and recommendations received from relevant professionals, prepared a Report on Prisons which was thoroughly discussed/deliberated and with appropriate changes/modification, approved the same.

IHRO decided that for effective enforcement and implementation of its recommendations, it would be desirable that the concerned officials are invited to the next meeting of the Commission with a view to get their input and hear their viewpoint on the Commission's recommendations, so as to devise appropriate steps for the full and effective implementation of the Report. Accordingly, it was decided that the Attorney-General for Pakistan , Secretary, Interior, provincial Secretaries, Home Department, all Inspectors-General of Police and Inspectors-General of Prisons should be invited to the next meeting of the Commission.

IHRO again met at Murree on July 23, 2003 to finalise its Report on Prisons. This meeting was attended besides the members of the Commission, by the relevant public functionaries, mentioned in the preceding paragraph. The participants had detailed discussion/deliberations on various provisions of the Report, and suggested various improvements to it. Some such suggestions were accepted and incorporated in the Report. The Report as approved by the Commission follows:

The main object of maintaining prisons is to keep the convicted prisoners in confinement so as to save the society from their evil influence. They are supposed to undergo their punishments in jail. Detents and under-trials are also kept in such jails. During their detention, the jail inmates are supposed to get proper accommodation, food and medical facilities. They are also supposed to be imparted education/training during detention, so as to be reformed, and on release, become useful and productive members of the society. As would be explained in the next pages, unfortunately our prison system seems to be failing in providing these basic facilities to jail inmates.

With regard to the administration of prisons and rights and duties of prisoners/inmates, several statutes hold the ground. These include the Prisons Act 1894, the Prisoners Act 1900 and the Pakistan Prison Rules 1978, etc.

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