Monday, May 11, 2009

Visits Karachi Central Jail: CJP irked over poor facilities for inmates

* Protesters outside jail premises demand release of prisoners acquitted by court

KARACHI: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Sunday visited the Karachi Central Jail as his three Sindh day tour comes to end.

Justice Chaudhry was accorded a guard of honour by the prison guards in front of ‘Maari’ (the traditional entrance of the prison). After Sindh High Court Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali’s short briefing, Chaudhry was taken inside for a detailed visit to different parts of the century-old prison.

Although a request for coverage was made by the Assistant Registrar, Karachi Registry of Supreme Court of Pakistan, vide letter A.R (K) /2009 dated May 6, print, electronic and broadcast media was barred from coverage. It was similar to what happened last week at the CJP’s visit to Kot Lakhpat Prison, Lahore when the media was harshly treated. Journalists were kept waiting for hours and later turned back. However, as per officials of the police and the Sindh government seeking anonymity, the CJP summoned the records of old convicts, details pertaining to production of Under Trial Prisoners, health and food problems of inmates, as well as ailments including communicable diseases. According to sources, the CJP has ordered the release of five inmates.

Chaudhry expressed extreme displeasure over the poor emergency health care and poor quality of food, sources said, adding that the CPK superintendent was also taken to task by the CJP and asked to treat the inmates humanely. In this regard, the Sindh IGP has cancelled the contract of the present food supplier.

Meanwhile, about three dozen men, women and children staged a protest demonstration outside the central jail. Amomg the protesters were the family members of Rizwan, an accused in Sheraton suicide attack case who was acquitted a few day ago by the SHC, but his release didn't come into effect.

Demanding justice, the protesters alleged that despite court orders, their family members booked in false cases of terrorism were not being released by the prison authorities. Protesting in hot weather for some time, they dispersed peacefully.