KP prison becomes a breeding ground for diseases

There is a serious shortage of medical facilities in prisons across the province


When Nafasat Khan, a death row inmate at Haripur Central Jail, developed an eye infection, he was taken to a nearby hospital for check-ups, but when doctors told him that he needed surgery and that he would have to pay a huge fee, Khan There is no choice but to learn to live with the infection.

Khan’s plight is common in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Kamal, who is currently lodged in Peshawar Central Jail on charges of attempted murder, recently faced the same predicament as his colleagues incarcerated in Haripur. Due to the lack of medical facilities in the prison, he was sent to Lady Reading Hospital in the provincial capital with abdominal injuries, and his family spent 47,000 rupees on various drugs and medical examinations. However, they can’t afford to continue spending huge sums on his health, so Kamal will also have to learn to live with an abdominal injury.

Documents obtained by The Express Tribune from the provincial prisons department highlight that Khan and Kamal are not the only unfortunate prisoners to suffer due to the poor conditions in Khyber prisons, where the health of inmates is not taken seriously. There are 196 detainees in prisons across the province suffering from tuberculosis, hepatitis B and C, and AIDS. Among them, 138 have hepatitis C, 29 have hepatitis B, 25 have AIDS, and 4 have AIDS. There is AIDS from tuberculosis.

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Most of the sick prisoners are lodged in Peshawar Central Jail, 13 of them are lodged in Swabi Prison, 12 in Charsada Sub-Jail, 12 in Lakki Marwat District Prison and 9 in Bannu Central Jail and four persons are lodged in Malakand sub-jail. In addition to housing sick prisoners, all prisons have one thing in common: a severe lack of medical facilities.

“The lack of medical facilities is not only a violation of the KP Prison Rules 2018 but also a gross violation of the fundamental rights of prisoners,” said Amanullah Pirzada, a lawyer working on the rights of incarcerated individuals.

“Rule 18 of the Prison Rules clearly stipulates that every prisoner must undergo a medical examination within 24 hours after being admitted; “If any prisoner suffers from an infectious disease, the prisoner will be kept in a separate cell. ” Pirzada said, further adding that there are regulations against overcrowding in prisons, but unfortunately, all these regulations are being flouted.

Pirzada’s information is important because data obtained from the provincial prisons department shows that the province has a total capacity of 13,076 inmates; however, there are currently 14,321 inmates in prisons across Khyber Province.

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Asked why prison regulations regarding inmate health and prison overcrowding were being flouted, Ahsanullah Jan, another lawyer, said everyone in the country believed that those detained or imprisoned had no right. “However, contrary to popular belief, prisoners do have rights. Article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Pakistan has ratified, clearly states that prisoners shall be treated with dignity and respect. Similarly, Article 30 of the Geneva Convention , Articles 31 and 32 emphasize that the health of prisoners must be ensured at all times.”

“Our prisons do hold over 14,000 inmates out of a total capacity of approximately 11,000. Overcrowding is part of the reason why diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis and HIV are spreading in the province’s prisons. However, we do not have the funds to establish appropriate facilities within prisons. medical facilities,” said former minister Hidayatullah.

Published in Express Tribune, November 5th2023.

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