08 April 2020
A Volunteer Checks the Temperature of Passengers Arriving at a Railway Station in Peshawar, AP Photo, 17 March 2020, (https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/03/19/pakistan-prisoners-risk-covid-19)
There are reports indicating that Pakistani authorities have taken some steps to mitigate the impact of the virus on the country’s prison population, which includes non-citizen detainees imprisoned under the 1946 Foreigners Act. The government has suspended visits to penitentiaries and court hearings. On 16 March, the Sindh provincial government began screening inmates and prison staff for Covid-19, while the Punjab government announced that it was creating isolation centres for prisoners.
However, critical concerns remain and there is increasing pressure to implement additional measures as the crisis becomes more acute. On 19 March, Human Rights Watch amplified calls to protect prisoners, urging the country’s authorities to take urgent steps to ensure that prisoners and detainees have access to adequate medical care and protective measures against Covid-19. Amnesty International and Justice Project Pakistan also urged authorities to take measures to protect prisoners. The Justice Project Pakistan urged the government to “devise a coherent approach to protecting its prison population, currently at over 77,000 individuals. Should the government fail to act now, Pakistani prisons and detention centres will become epicentres for the transmission of Covid-19.”
On 24 March 2020, the first case of Covid-19 within a prison was confirmed. On the same day, the Islamabad High Court ordered the release of hundreds of prisoners involved in petty crimes on bail, in a bid to reduce the hazards of the Covid-19 outbreak in jails. Since then, several provincial governments have ordered the release of prisoners: on 28 March, the Punjab government’s Home Department announced that it would be releasing 20,000 prisoners out of 46,000 from the 41 jails across the province (and bail applications have been made for prisoners who committed petty crimes and for those over the age of 60); and on 30 March, the Sindh government approved the temporary release for three months of around 4,000 prisoners. (Government officials hinted that drug smugglers and those convicted of terrorism may not be released. Prisoners convicted of “minor” crimes would be eligible for temporary release. It was reported that there were around 16,024 prisoners for 13,538 places in all prisons across the Sindh). The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa also announced that they would release prisoners 60 days early.
S. Jamal, “10 Steps Pakistan is Taking to Contain Coronavirus,” Gulf News, 15 March 2020, https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/pakistan/10-steps-pakistan-is-taking-to-contain-coronavirus-1.70403640
Human Rights Watch, “Pakistan: Prisoners at Risk of COVID-19,” 19 March 2020, https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/03/19/pakistan-prisoners-risk-covid-19
Amnesty International, “Pakistan: Protect Prisoners During Covid-19 Outbreak, Says Amnesty International and Justice Project Pakistan," 24 March 2020, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/03/pakistan-must-protect-prisoners-during-covid-19-outbreak/
I. Sajid and A. Latif, “Pakistan Stays Under Lockdown amid Coronavirus Outbreak,” Andalou Agency, 24 March 2020, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/pakistan-stays-under-lockdown-amid-coronavirus-outbreak/1777394#
The News, “Containing Corona Spread in Jails: Punjab Govt Releasing 20,000 Prisoners,” 28 March 2020, https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/635778-containing-corona-spread-in-jails-punjab-govt-releasing-20-000-prisoners
I. Ali, “Move to Release 4,000 Convicts from Sindh Prisons to Stop Spread of Covid-19,” Dawn, 30 March 2020, https://www.dawn.com/news/1544810
Global Detention Project, "Immigration Detention in Pakistan," https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/asia-pacific/pakistan
IMMIGRATION AND DETENTION-RELATED STATISTICS
Total number of immigration detainees by year
Number of immigration detainees on a given day
Top nationalities of detainees
Number of persons granted alternatives to immigration detention
Number of detained asylum seekers
Total number of detained minors
Number of detained unaccompanied minors
Number of detained accompanied minors
Number of detained stateless persons
Number of apprehensions of non-citizens
Immigration detainees as a percentage of total international migrant population
Estimated total immigration detention capacity
Number of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
Estimated capacity of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
Number of dedicated medium-term immigration detention centres
Number of immigration offices
Number of transit facilities
Number of criminal facilities
Number of ad hoc facilities
Number of persons removed/returned (voluntary returns and deportations)
Number of deportations/forced returns only
Percentage of persons removed in relation to total number of people placed in removal procedures
Estimated number of undocumented migrants
Remittances from the country
Unemployment rate amongst migrants
World Bank Rule of Law Index
Domestic Opinion Polls on Immigration
DOMESTIC LAWS AND POLICIES
Core pieces of national legislation
Regulations, standards, guidelines
Non-immigration-status-related grounds providing for administrative detention in immigration legislation.
Does the country provide specific criminal penalties for immigration-related violations?
Grounds for criminal immigration-related detention/incarceration and maximum potential duration of incarceration
Has the country decriminalized immigration-related violations?
Maximum length for administrative immigration detention in law.
Longest recorded instance of immigration detention.
Maximum length of time in custody prior to issuance of a detention order
Average length of detention
Maximum length of detention for asylum-seekers
Maximum length of detention for persons detained upon arrival at ports of entry
Provision of basic procedural standards
Types of non-custodial measures
Is the detention of vulnerable persons provided in law? Are they detained in practice?
Expedited/fast track removal
Year in Force
Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
International treaty reservations
Individual complaints procedure
Treaty bodies decisions on individual complaints
Relevant recommendations issued by treaty bodies
Regional legal instruments
Regional treaty reservations
Regional judicial decisions on individual complaints
Recommendations issued by regional human rights mechanisms
Visits by special procedures of the Human Rights Council
Relevant recommendations by UN Special Procedures
Federal or centralized governing system
Centralized or decentralized immigration authority
Detention Facility Management
Formally designated detention estate?
Types of detention facilities used in practice
Authorized monitoring institutions
Is the national human rights institution (NHRI) recognized as independent?
Does NHRI carry out visits?
Does NHRI have capacity to receive complaints?
Does NHRI publicly release reports on immigration detention?
Does national preventive mechanism (NPM) carry out visits?
Does NPM have capacity to receive complaints?
Does NPM publicly release reports on immigration detention?
Do NGOs carry out visits?
NGO capacity to receive complaints?
Do NGOs publish reports on immigration detention?
Do parliamentary organs carry out visits?
Do parliamentary organs have capacity to receive complaints?
Do parliamentary organs publicly report on their detention findings?
Do internal inspection agencies (IIAs) carry out visits?
Do IIAs have capacity to receive complaints?
Do IIAs publicly report their findings from detention inspections?
Do international and/or regional bodies (IRBs) visit immigration-related detention facilities?
Do IRBs publicly report their findings from inspections?
Types of privatisation/outsourcing
Detention contractors and other non-state entities
Estimated annual budget for detention operations
Estimated annual budgets for particular detention-related activities
Estimated cost per detainees day (in USD)
Estimated annual budget for non-custodial measures (in USD)
Estimated costs of non-custodial measures (in USD)
Does the country receive external sources of funding?
Description of foreign assistance