–Decision only applied to inmates who finished sentences and were unable to pay penalty
KARACHI: The Sindh government on Thursday released 829 prisoners charged under minor offences across all jails in the province as coronavirus cases continue to increase.
In this regard, Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Murad Ali Shah while presiding over a meeting of the Sindh Home Department, said that the step is being taken to bring the number of prisoners down as there are at least 16,000 inmates who are cramped in different jails across the province.
Shah said that jails were extremely crowded, therefore, he was trying to release prisoners who could be given relief within the ambit of the law.
He instructed that date be compiled in this regard. “In the under-trail prisoners’ list, there should be separate categories of prisoners who committed heinous or minor crimes while a separate list of elderly and sick prisoners should also be made so that their cases could be considered accordingly,” he said.
Additionally, the home department was also instructed to furnish a separate list of prisoners who have completed their jail terms but do not have money to pay the fine imposed on them.
“The provincial government would pay fines of the prisoners who have been granted bail but lack the money or property to file a surety amount,” he added.
Further, the Sindh CM has also asked the home department to prepare separate lists of prisoners who are women, children, and foreigners so that they may also be given some relief keeping in view the severity of their crime.
He also instructed jail authorities to keep inmates at a distance from each other in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and ensure proper hygiene in and around the prisons.
Earlier in the day, Sindh Human Rights Commission Chairperson Justice (r) Majida Rizvi recommended the provision for coronavirus disease (Covid-19) testing facilities for inmates and jail staff, along with isolation wards and quarantine units, inside the premises of prisons scattered across the province.
In a letter forwarded to Shah, she said that the identification and close monitoring of the aged, weaker and vulnerable inmates with medical conditions was also urgently required.
“The provincial government must take appropriate measures to protect inmates from virus otherwise, jails could fast turn into breeding grounds for the virus,” she emphasised.