Federal Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari has said undertrial prisoners should be released as it would create a crisis if they are diagnosed with COVID-19.
“The prisoners already have hepatitis, AIDS and other diseases, they are extremely vulnerable to the coronavirus,” she said while speaking to the media outside the Supreme Court on Monday.
There is overcrowding in our jails because of a large number of undertrial prisoners. No judgment has been given in the cases against them so we don’t know if they are guilty or not, she remarked. “Still, they are being kept in the same prisons as convicted people.”
Prisoners who are handicapped should be released at least, she said. Even our laws allows that, the federal minister added.
A five-member bench of the Supreme Court is hearing a petition challenging the release of undertrial prisoners in jails across Pakistan over the coronavirus scare.
On March 30, the top court put on hold the release of prisoners after it suspended the orders given by different courts across the country. The courts allowed the release to ensure the safety of prisoners and stop the spread of coronavirus in Pakistani jails.