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IHC appoints commission to probe human rights violations in prisons

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday appointed a commission to look into human rights violations in the country’s prisons.

“Keeping in view the alarming state of affairs regarding the serious violation of human rights and civil liabilities of prisoners incarcerated in prisons across the country, this Court appoints a Commission headed by Ms Shireen Mazari, Minister of Human Rights,” read an eight-page verdict authored by Chief Justice Athar Minallah.

The health secretary, the interior secretary, former chairman of the Human Rights Commission Zohra Yousuf, a journalist Ghazi Shahabuudin, Supreme Court lawyer Zia Awan, former DG of Federal Investigation Agency Tariq Khosa and the chief secretaries of the four provinces will be members of the commission.

Proposing the commission’s terms of reference (TOR), the verdict said the probe body will investigate “human rights violations in the prisons of Pakistan and lack of medical assistances and obstacles in access to a court of law of prisoners who do not have means or assistance in this regard.”

The commission, it ruled, will investigate “failure on part of the executive authorities and respective Governments to fulfill obligations and enforce the Prisons Rules and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 relating to prisoners who suffer from illness and diseases.”

It has been tasked to carry out a review of the Prisons Rules and other relevant laws with an object of fulfilling the commitments of the State of Pakistan under the Constitution, International Treatise and Conventions.

The commission will also put forward proposals regarding appropriate governance and management systems and how to ensure individual and institutional accountability.

The human rights secretary, who will act as secretary of the commission will convene its meeting within seven days of receiving a certified copy of this order.

The Ministry of Health was further directed to constitute medical boards in consultations with the respective chief secretaries in each province for examining health condition of persons incarcerated in prisons.

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