The Human Rights Watch (HRW) confirmed in a report released yesterday, Wednesday that the Pakistani authorities had systematically deprived prisoners of adequate health care, leaving thousands at risk of disease and death.
The Organization added that outdated and discriminatory bail laws had led to severe overcrowding, with most prisoners yet to be tried or convicted.
The 55-page report, “A Nightmare for Everyone: The Health Care Crisis in Pakistan’s Prisons,” documents widespread deficiencies in prison health care in Pakistan and the consequences for a total prison population of more than 88,000 people.
As per HRW’s report, Pakistan has one of the world’s most overcrowded prison systems, with cells designed for a maximum of 3 people holding up to 15.
Severe overcrowding has compounded existing health care deficiencies, leaving inmates vulnerable to communicable diseases and unable to get medicines and treatment for even basic health needs, as well as emergencies.
Preparing its report, the Human Rights Watch interviewed 54 people, including former inmates in Sindh, Punjab, and Islamabad, among them women and juveniles, lawyers for detainees and convicted prisoners, prison health officials, and advocacy organizations working on prisoner rights.
“The crisis in prison health care reflects deeper failures in access to health care across Pakistan, exacerbated most recently by an economic crisis”, the report said, adding that, “Poor health care intersects with a range of other rights abuses against prisoners, including torture and mistreatment, and is a key symptom of a broken judicial system. Corruption among prison officials and impunity for abusive conduct contribute to serious human rights abuses.”