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September 11, 2018

Prisons in KP lack facilities for mentally ill inmates


September 11, 2018

PESHAWAR: The mentally ill inmates in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa prisons are facing a host of problems including non-compliance with prisons rules, miserable living and health conditions.

These problems were noticed during the visit of a team of the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter to central prisons in Peshawar, Haripur, Bannu, Mardan and District Prison Kohat as per the approved work plan under strategic activities 2018-19.

The visit was aimed at identifying and highlighting the problems of mentally ill prisoners and planning for improvement of mental prisoners.The NCHR stated in the report that there were 22 prisons in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It said that 251 mental prisoners were found in five jails including Peshawar, Haripur, Bannu, Kohat and Dera Ismail Khan. It was revealed that the number of non-criminal mental prisoners was less than criminal ones.

The report was compiled after interviewing mentally ill prisoners, jail staff and medical staff of the prisons. Highlighting the problems being faced by the mentally retarded inmates, the NCHR said the situation of mental prisoners was miserable that required more attention and measures.

About the living and health conditions of the inmates, it said the atmosphere was worse and tense. “Communication is the main problem. There is no social, moral, behaviour change and environmental condition in which mental prisoners could live. It is the main factor, which may exacerbate the living and treatment situation of mental prisoners,” the report said.

It added that in prisons, there were difficulties in determining the accurate number of mental ills, but it seemed that schizophrenia was twice as common. The report said the depressive illness is equally common, psychiatric complications of epilepsy are also common, personality and behavioural disorders are frequent and especially if there are developmental disorders such as autism and pre-senile dementia.

The commission claimed that general susceptibilities were attributed to the consequences of poor social and health care conditions of the mental inmates. It revealed that mentally ill prisoners were not thoroughly investigated and treated.

The report observed that medical staff was not appropriate for assessing permanent disabilities and the details of disabilities have not been recorded properly while the diagnosis system was quite poor.

It said only the visiting psychiatrist treated mental prisoners in central prisons of Haripur, Peshawar and Dera Ismail Khan. “Residential services like bed, bathroom and toilet are miserable. Mental prisoners want to be left alone but no arrangement existed at prisons,” said the report.

It was observed that some patients had required long-term care in the hospital that has a severe stake of dementia. The prison authorities should provide separate accommodation and treatment facilities, which are not available.

During the evaluation of a mental prisoner’s treatment, it was revealed that the medical staff complained about the non-availability of medicines.

The psychiatrists including Naveed Irfan from Haripur Jail said that they had advised the officials to shift the acute mental prisoners to the mental hospital for proper treatment but the administration i.e. police did not provide transportation and security facilities.

“The mental sections inside prisons lack proper lighting, exhaust, poor system of windows and ventilators,” the NCHR reported, adding the victual system i.e. food, potable water was not good.

It said that the same food was given to the mentally ill prisoners, which was meant for the normal inmates. The dresses were quite dirty. Every prisoner who has worn clothes is declared mental in the prisons.

Naveed Irfan suggested that mental prisoners should be provided with proper dresses and these should be changed and cleaned after three days.During the visits, it was observed that no medical personnel was found working for the mental prisoners.

It said that 90 percent criminal mental prisoners were not produced before courts where their cases were under process. “About 35 cases are pending. It was observed that there is no proper record-keeping of the trial and conviction of the mental prisoners,” the NCHR reported.

It said the jails administrations ignored the cases of mental prisoners. “There is no proper system of the history sheet, treatment and diagnosis chart/file of the mental prisoners. The team found files of treatment only in one jail, but these were incomplete.

It was revealed in the report that the Pakistan Prisons Rules were not being complied with as, under Rule 438, the maximum period during which a non-criminal mental patient can be detained for observation was 30 days.

NCHR KP Deputy Director Rahat Ali said the report along with suggestions had been submitted to the federal and provincial governments to take notice of the miserable conditions and violation of the rights of mentally ill inmates in the prions.

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