On the occasion of the closing of the Jubilee of mercy, 69 inmates of the central prison in Faisalabad were released and many more will be released, in the next few days, in other Pakistani prisons, in response to a gesture of clemency, as requested by Pope Francis, on the occasion of the Jubilee of mercy.
The act took place on the occasion of the recent visit to the prison made by the Federal Minister for Human Rights, the Christian Senator, Kamran Michael, along with the Bishop of Faisalabad, Joseph Arshad, other Christian leaders and representatives of the government of Punjab and the judiciary.
For the occasion, the judge of the court of first instance Abid Hussain Qureshi ordered the release of 69 prisoners involved in minor offenses, who were still in prison because, despite having served their sentence, were not able to pay the sanctions in cash provided for by the convictions. In a note sent to Fides, Minister Kamran Michael confirmed that "it was decided to release prisoners involved in minor crimes who are still in prisons just because unable to pay the sanctions. These sanctions will be paid through a special government fund, he added. The minister reported that the Government has started the process of releasing these prisoners across the country, adding that this process started in the central prison of Faisalabad will be extended to other prisons.
As part of a rehabilitation path, "the government has started special training courses in order to make former detainees responsible citizens and help them reintegrate into society". The initiative, he said, reflects the spirit "announced by Pope Francis in this year named as the Year of Mercy, to assign the fundamental right to freedom of these prisoners". "This policy also aims to reduce the number of prisoners in Pakistani jails, to ensure them a better accommodation in the structures", he concluded.
Minister Michael inspected various sections of the prison and met with some of the detainees to inquire about their conditions, ensuring to take the necessary measures to solve their problems.
In Pakistan there are 88 detention facilities that house a total prison population that exceeds 80 thousand prisoners, of whom 70% are awaiting trial. The official capacity of the prison system is approximately 46 thousand units, and the problem of overcrowding of prisons is felt everywhere. In its 2015 Report, the "Human Rights Commission of Pakistan", Ong widespread across the nation, recalls that "ill-treatment and torture are widespread", while "prisons are home to twice as many people than their capacity, and in some cells, prisoners do not even have a bed. "Overcrowding, does not allow the separation of inmates according to categories (under trial or already convicted), nor between minors and adults. In the Pakistani Penal system there are alternative punishments such as sanctions and fines, ordered sometimes by the courts for the sentencing of offenders considered non-violent. (Fides)