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IMPROVING JUVENILE JUSTICE.

Byline: WAJAHAT ALI MALIK

A juvenile prisoner under Rule 3(vii) of the Pakistan Prison Rules of 1978 is a person who has not attained the age of 18 years. In the criminal justice system, the age of the accused is reckoned on the day of commission of offence but the jail administration has nothing to do with the date of the commission of offence. For the purpose of segregation, and admission in prison, the age of the accused is computed on the day of his admission in jail. Jail authorities conduct the medical examination of an accused or convicted person upon his/her entering the jail and the age of the accused or convicted person is primarily recorded on the basis of the observation of physical appearance of the accused/convicted person and not through any other authentic or forensic method.

Juvenile prisoners in Pakistani jails are classified in four categories:

1. Juvenile Pre-Trial Prisoners

2. Juvenile Under-Trial Prisoners (UTPs)

3. Juvenile Convicted Prisoners

4. Juvenile Condemned Prisoners

1) Juvenile Pre-Trial Prisoners are prisoners who are detained during pending investigations and trial courts have not taken cognizance of their cases or their trials have not been commenced formally by the trial courts.

2) Juvenile Under-Trial Prisoners (UTPs) are prisoners whose trial is in progress and they have not yet been convicted or acquitted of the offences by any court of law.

3) Juvenile Convicted Prisoners are those whose trials have been concluded by the trial courts and they have been found guilty of committing an offence and a sentence has been awarded to them.

4) Juvenile Condemned Prisoners are those who have filed appeals in the High Courts or Supreme Court of Pakistan and have ultimately submitted mercy petitions before the President of Pakistan against their conviction or sentence and their appeals and mercy petitions have been decided by the apex courts and President of Pakistan, respectively, by confirming their sentences.

On October 1, 2017, all Home Departments in the provinces in Pakistan, except in the former FATA, shared official data about the prison population in the country. According to this data, there were 84,287 prisoners in 112 prisons administered by the governments of the provinces/administrative territories. Some 1343 out of 84,287 prisoners in the 112 prisons were juvenile, i.e. 1.6 percent of the total population of prisons. Out of these 1343 juvenile prisoners, only four were female, all detained in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) prisons. The combined authorized official capacity of prisoners in all the jails of Pakistan was 53,744 prisoners as compared to the occupancy volume of 84,287 prisoners on 01 October 2017. Therefore, the prison occupancy rate in Pakistan stood at 157 percent, which could be interpreted as a 57 percent overcrowding or high occupancy rate.

The chart here shows the level of overcrowding in prisons on the basis of province/administrative territory in Pakistan. The occupancy rate is the highest in Punjab at 168 percent, followed by Sindh at 155 percent, then KP at 149 percent and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) at 147 percent. However, not all prisons in Pakistan have more than their official capacity. Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) have less prisoners than their total capacity. This does not automatically mean that there would be no overcrowding in any of their prisons. In fact, one central prison and three district prisons in Balochistan have prisoners beyond their official capacity.

Overcrowding in prisons automatically generates substandard and inhumane conditions of detention such as unbalanced food, insufficient water, inadequate accommodation, poor access to healthcare, lack of hygiene, difficulties in family visits, lack of staff and safety and security concerns. All these issues lead to the abuse of juvenile prisoners in Pakistani jails.

In April 2018, the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (LJCP) also published statistics on its website about the prison population in Pakistan. According to LJCP's statistics, the total population of prisoners in all the prisons of the four provinces of Pakistan was 80,139, whereas the combined authorized capacity of keeping the prisoners was 56,628. Thus, the prison occupancy rate stood at 142 percent, which interpreted as a 42 percent overcrowding rate in all the prisons in Pakistan. Out of a total 80,139 prisoners, 28 prisoners were juvenile pre-trial prisoners, who were waiting for their trials due to non-submission of challans in their cases. All of them were males and were detained in KP jails. Similarly, 1081 out of a total 80,139 prisoners were juvenile UTPs, which included 16 female juvenile UTPs, 14 detained in Punjab and 2 in KP jails. 118 out of the total 80,139 prisoners were juvenile convicted prisoners and all of them were males.

Out of the total 112 prisons in Pakistan, 7 prisons are made for juvenile prisoners. Juvenile prisons are also called special prisons. Punjab and Sindh have special prisons for juvenile prisoners, such as Borstal Institutions or Youthful Offenders Industrial Schools, whereas similar prisons for juvenile prisoners do not exist in other provinces/autonomous territories, such as Balochistan, KP, GB and AJK.

In Punjab, 640 out of the total 50,405 prisoners, i.e. around 1.27 percent were juvenile prisoners as of 01 October 2017. All the juvenile prisoners in Punjab were males. There are two specialized detention facilities for juvenile prisoners in Punjab, one each in Bahawalpur and Faisalabad, called Borstal Institutions and Juvenile Jails (BIJJ). Juvenile prisoners were accommodated in 30 general prisons and two specialized juvenile detention facilities (BIJJ) in the Punjab.

In Sindh, 228 out of a total 18,998 prisoners, i.e. around 1.2 percent, were juvenile prisoners as of 01 October 2017. All the juvenile prisoners in Sindh were males. Sindh has five separate prisons for juvenile prisoners called Youthful Offenders Industrial Schools (YOIS). The YOIS exist in Karachi, Hyderabad, Dadu, Sukkur and Larkana. Out of these five YOISs in Sindh and one in Dadu are un-operational. All juvenile prisoners in Sindh are sent to specialized prisons for juvenile prisoners.

In KP, 267 out of the total 11,330 prisoners, i.e., around 2.36 per cent, were juvenile prisoners as of 01 October 2017. KP also had one convicted female juvenile prisoner and three female juvenile UTPs in Central Prison, Haripur. They were all confined in the general female quarters of the respective prison. There are no specialized detention facilities for juvenile prisoners in KP, but segregated areas within some of the existing prison premises have been assigned to them. This is despite the fact that KP has enacted legislation called 'KP Borstal Institutions Act 2012'. A Borstal Institution has been constructed at Bannu (KP), but it is still not operational due to technical reasons and the lengthy rule-making process. 16 of the 22 operational prisons of KP have juvenile prisoners.

In Balochistan, 47 out of the total 2,427 prisoners, i.e., around 1.94 per cent, were juvenile prisoners as of October 1, 2017. All these were males. There are 11 prisons in Balochistan, which consist of 5 Central Prisons and 6 District Prisons. There are no specialized detention facilities for juvenile prisoners in the province, despite the enactment of the 'Balochistan Borstal Institutions Act 2014'. 6 of the 11 general prisons of the province take juvenile prisoners.

In the administrative territory of GB, 12 out of the total 374 prisoners, i.e., around 3.21 percent were juvenile prisoners as of 01 October 2017. All the juvenile prisoners in GB were males. Since there are no specialized detention facilities for juvenile prisoners in GB, 3 of the 6 general prisons take juvenile prisoners. There were no juvenile prisoners in any prison in AJK as of October 1, 2017.

Juvenile prisoners are put in with adult prisoners in some jails but in separate barracks, especially in Balochistan and KP, where there are no separate juvenile jails. This leads to abuse of juveniles by other prisoners and prison staff. Such incidents are often not even properly investigated and the perpetrators go unpunished. The government needs to carry out systematic and regular monitoring of such detention centres. It should investigate any reports or allegations of torture or ill treatment and ensure that perpetrators are punished.

The Juvenile Justice System Act 2018 is the latest law, which protects the dignity of juvenile delinquents while they are in the custody of the State. The law strongly emphasizes establishment of separate jails and rehabilitation centres for juvenile prisoners, including separate jails and rehabilitation centres for female juvenile prisoners in order to meet the international standards of juvenile detention conditions.

The Juvenile Rehabilitation Center is a special kind of prison established exclusively for keeping juvenile offenders. The convicted juvenile prisoner, instead of being confined in an adult prison, can be sent to a Juvenile Rehabilitation Center for social reintegration, till the completion of period of imprisonment or until he attains the age of 18 years. The Juvenile Rehabilitation Center is a place where a juvenile prisoner is kept and given education, vocational or technical training for his mental, moral and psychological development. This includes certified institutions, juvenile training institutions, borstal institutions, vocational centres and dar-ul-amaan and women crises centres established by the government or by voluntary organizations certified by the government.

The government can also certify an already established association or society for social reintegration or rehabilitation of a juvenile offender who is released on parole or discharged from a Juvenile Rehabilitation Center and may regulate activities and functions of such offenders in the prescribed manner. The government, if dissatisfied with the condition, management or superintendence of a certified Juvenile Rehabilitation Center may at any time withdraw the certificate issued in the prescribed manner.

Since the enactment of JJSA 2018, not a single juvenile rehabilitation center or special prison for juveniles has been established or certified. Therefore, it is highly recommended that the government must establish and certify Juvenile Rehabilitation Centres in all the provinces and administrative territories in order to prevent abuse of juvenile prisoners in the prisons of Pakistan and for their rehabilitation and re-integration into society.
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Publication:South Asia
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Jun 16, 2019
Words:1761
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