'Keeping Juveniles As Under-Trial Prisoners Is Unjust And Degrading'

'Keeping Juveniles As Under-Trial Prisoners Is Unjust And Degrading'
Pakistan's prisons are overcrowded and thousands of juvenile under-trail prisoners are facing detention for years, which 'is one of the most unjust and degrading treatment that can be given to human being.'

This was said by high court advocate Wajahat Ali Malik in his opinion piece in Daily Times. Wajahat mentions in his article that Pakistan's jails are overcrowded with prisoners. He says the combined authorized official capacity of keeping the prisoners in all four provinces of Pakistan is 56,628, but the current total number of prisoners in Pakistani jails exceed 80 thousand.

He distinguishes between Under-trial prisoners (UTPs) and Pre-trial prisoners saying that UTPs are those prisoners who are detained in prisons but their trials are in progress, while PTPs are 'prisoners who are detained during pending investigations and trial courts have not taken cognizance of their cases or their trials have not yet been commenced formally in trial courts'.


The police does not distinguish between the two, he added, and categorizes PTPs as UTPs. Out of the 80 thousand plus prisoners,  16,696 UTPs were detained for 1 year, 6320 UTPs were detained for more than 2 years, 2,736 UTPs were detained for over 3 years and 502 UTPs were detained for over 5 years.

As of 2018, out of the 1343 juvenile prisoners in 112 prisons of Pakistan, 1209 of them were under-trial prisoners.

According to the Juvenile Justice System Act of 2018, the trial of juveniles must be wrapped up within 6 months, and if the time period exceeds 6 months, the juvenile must be granted bail with immediate affect. But juveniles are put under detentions for years. 

Wajahat concluded that keeping juveniles as under-trial prisoners was unjust and the practice must come to an end, adding that some juveniles spend years in jail and then are not even found guilty. 'The childhood and innocence of these children is lost forever.'

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