NCHR secures release of 21 more juveniles from Adiala jail
By Ikram Junaidi
ISLAMABAD: As many as 21 more children were released on Wednesday from Adiala jail in Rawalpindi with the efforts of the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), taking the number of juvenile prisoners freed during last three days to 62.
The release was made following the directives of Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah for expeditious disposal of cases involving juvenile prisoners.
As many as 75pc of the juveniles had no father and were from the most impoverished sections of the society. With no support from the family or state, even those granted bail have no recourse to sureties, no place to go and are incarcerated with habitual and hardened juvenile offenders.
The NCHR legal team, including Raja Haseeb Sultan advocate and its law officer Mian Waqar Ahmed, was able to complete the trial, record evidence and secure the release of 62 juvenile prisoners from the central jail.
`As per the IHC CJ`s directions, 62 of 113 cases of juvenile prisoners have been tried in the court of Rana Mujahid Raheem so far,` said advocate Haseeb Sultan.
He said in all these cases the FIRs were registered against unknown persons, which showed the number of innocent children coming under the ambit of this injustice.
The NCHR also acknowledged the proactive approach of Rana Mujahid Rahim, Magistrate for Juvenile Court,Islamabad, who ordered the release and acquittal of under trail juvenile prisoners by way of speedy trials.
The court released 31 juvenile prisoners on Monday, 10 on Tuesday and 21 on Wednesday.
Justice Minallah had directed deputing an administrative judge to take care of the needs and complaints of juvenile prisoners on a priority basis. For this purpose, he had also made a special committee with the representation of jail psychologists and the NCHR law office.
He also asked the chief commissioner to arrange a special van for juvenile prisoners.
In a letter to the IHC chief justice, the commission appreciated him for the concern shown over violation of human rights and incarceration of juveniles in Adiala jail.
`We acknowledge the personal commitment of the chief justice to the cause.
It was his initiative that gained momentum and led to change in the age-old corrupted, convoluted penal system, said NCHR chairperson Rabiya Javeri Agha.
`The Ministry of Interior, under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2018, was supposed to have made rehabilitation and observation homes for juvenile children within three months of the passing of the Act.
`This meant that there shall be reformatory schools where such kids will do community work, etc. But four years have passed and no suchfacilities have been created with the result that juvenile children are still going to jail, she said.
According to the NCHR`s inquiry report on custodial torture at Adiala jail, as many as 79 juveniles were under trial, 29 of whom were without legal representation, which is in contravention to Section 3 (1) of the Juvenile Justice Act 2018 (JJSA).