Rights Watch (1st April 2020)

Rights Watch

Prisoners’ Rights

The Punjab Government has issued guidelines for the sanitation and disinfection of prisons to mitigate the COVID-19 outbreak among inmates and jail staff. 48,000 prisoners across 42 jails in the province will undergo mandatory screening.

Per official guidelines, jail authorities must ensure all bed linens, clothes and towels are regularly washed with detergent, and all surfaces have been thoroughly disinfected. Jail authorities have been instructed to limit movement of prisoners and wardens, and to properly ventilate jail cells. Visitors and staff must undergo a strict check-up before entering jail premises.

This comes after the Supreme Court blocked the Islamabad High Courts’ orders for the release of under-trial prisoners to reduce jail populations and stifle the threat of coronavirus outbreaks in already overcrowded prisons.

Honor Killing in Okara

A girl was murdered for the honour by her parents in Hussain Garh village in Okara, Punjab on Monday, 30th March 2020. Shergah police were informed of the crime by a village resident. Upon contacting the girl’s father, Muhammad Sharif, the accused admitted that he and his wife, Parveen Bibi murdered their daughter Javeria as they doubted her “character”.

The girl was promptly buried in a nearby graveyard of the night of the incident. The couple is being charged with section 302 “qatl-i-amd” (intended murder), and 34 “common criminal intention” of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Internet Should be Available to all

Civil society and student groups call on the Government to ensure the provision of affordable, quality internet and widespread coverage in order to attend online classes amidst the coronavirus lockdown. Students in tribal and rural areas, as well as in Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir are unable to attend online classes due to poor connectivity and coverage, while those who can avail good internet speeds cannot afford it.

Moreover, many educational institutions are ill-equipped to conduct online classes – lack of training on how to operate conference apps and to record classes, and are marred with non-standardized learning management systems and difficulties in restructuring courses for online instruction.