The panellists acknowledged the various legislative and policy measures undertaken by successive governments to introduce rehabilitative reforms in the prisons and justice systems in Pakistan. They also agreed that further actions were needed to modernize archaic laws and ensure the effective implementation of humane and rehabilitative legal and policy instruments. The panellists stressed that a fundamental shift in the ways juvenile offenders were perceived by legislators and policy makers was essential. This change of perception would ensure that budgetary allocations for jails in Pakistan were allocated towards rehabilitative reforms like livelihood skills, counselling, and structured social reintegration instead of reinforcing penal measures. Failure to do so would lead to the perpetuation of a prison environment which increases young people’s vulnerability to involvement in crime and antisocial activities.
You cannot have successful reintegration and rehabilitation without effectively functioning parole and probation systems. Reintegration cannot be done through the prisons system. (Iqbal Detho, Human Rights Activist and Member of the National Commission on the Rights of Children)
The panellists also came up with a number of recommendations to institute a paradigm shift towards a more rehabilitative prisons system in Pakistan. These included provision of adequate legal support to vulnerable prisoners and juvenile offenders; allocation of more resources to strengthen parole and probation systems; provision of education promoting tolerant and inclusive values among prisoners and juvenile offenders; separation of women juvenile prisoners from adults and inclusion of more women probation officers to support social reintegration; and incorporation of a psycho-social perspective in rehabilitation programmes for prisoners and juvenile offenders to understand the structural factors behind their vulnerability to criminality and antisocial activities.
You build your identity as a human being through transgressions. The role of parents, teachers, and institutions is to help children and adolescents learn from these transgressions in a positive way (Valerie Khan, Executive Director, Group Development Pakistan).
The recommendations from experts in this webinar will guide UNDP’s planned programming with prisoners and probationers in Pakistan; these will also be communicated to Government functionaries and political representatives through the advocacy component of our projects with the aim to bring about transformative and lasting changes to the lives of young people in conflict with the law in the province.