Judge finds Imran’s complaints about facilities ‘genuine’

This photo shows former Prime Minister Imran Khan speaking during a press conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. — AFP/File
This photo shows former Prime Minister Imran Khan speaking during a press conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ), Attock Shafquat Ullah Khan visited former prime minister Imran Khan in his cell and found his complaints and concerns regarding living conditions to be ‘genuine’ including the lack of privacy in the washroom.

Imran is currently serving a three-year sentence in Attock Jail after being found guilty of corrupt practices in the Toshakhana case earlier this month. The judge’s observations regarding the former prime minister’s living conditions came in a report that was issued on Monday but was compiled on August 15 after he conducted a fortnightly inspection of the prison facilities.

According to the report, all necessary parts of the jail i.e. the barracks of ladies prisoners, under trial prisoners, civil prisoners, kitchen and hospital etc. were visited and those imprisoned were interviewed in detail. No complaint was received rather the inhabitants were found satisfied with the provision of the basic facilities.

According to the report, the judge, during the routine inspection, also visited Imran’s cell, who expressed “grave concerns” about the violation of his privacy and the prevailing living conditions within the prison. The judge mentioned that the PTI leader raised significant concerns regarding a CCTV camera positioned in front of his prison bars, located at a distance of five to six feet, which covers an open bathroom-cum-latrine. The facility had “small L-shape walls about 2.5-3 feet high, leaving no privacy” for toilet activities, the report quoted Imran as saying.

“The concern expressed by the prisoner is genuine one and is also a violation of Rules 257 and 771 of Pakistan Prison Rules, 1978,” the judge noted in the report. Rule 257 (Sanitary and bathing arrangements) of the PPR states: “Prisoners shall be granted adequate facilities for bathing and latrines, ensuring privacy.” Rule 771 pertains to “latrines,” specifying that “latrine floors should be elevated and frequently renewed. Each latrine must have a proper seat and partitions for the sake of privacy.”

He said prisoner Imran Khan further complained that his wife and lawyers have no easy access to him. The Superintendent also assured that the prisoner shall be given access to his wife and lawyers as per prevailing rules. At that point, the judge, said that the superintendent of police provided assurance to address the grievance raised by the PTI chairman. Furthermore, he also assured him that Imran would be granted access to his wife and lawyers “as per prevailing rules”.Responding to the report, the PTI said it was “absolutely shameful how a national hero is being denied his fundamental human rights and basic facilities he’s entitled to. The PTI went on to add that Imran was being kept in “distressing conditions” and provided “C-Class jail facilities”.

Last week, Imran’s wife Bushra Bibi also voiced concerns about the possibility of her husband being “poisoned” during incarceration at District Jail Attock.

In a letter dated August 17 addressed to the Punjab home secretary, Imran’s wife had sought the ex-PM’s transfer from District Jail Attock to Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail and expressed fear he could be poisoned in lock-up. According to the letter, the life of the ex-prime minister was in danger as “he was previously attacked twice whereby once he was hit by bullets shots (sic) on his body.”

In a related development, the PTI Core Committee meeting has highlighted the observations of Additional District and Sessions Judge Shafqut Ullah Khan who ‘verified the bad treatment being meted out to him in Attock Jail.’ The report, the PTI said, subscribes to their assertions of the PTI chairman being subjected to inhuman and illegal treatment in the Attock prison.

Meanwhile, caretaker Interior Minister Sarfaraz Bugti maintained on the Geo News show ‘Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath’ that the PTI chief was allowed to meet visitors and provided facilities according to the prison class he applied for. Bugti said he would definitely enquire from the Punjab government and jail officials about other issues raised in the inspection report such as the CCTV camera.

“We will ensure that all those facilities and the prison class he (Imran) applied for and deserves as the ex-prime minister according to the law are provided to him. As far as I know, he has a bed and is provided with newspapers but he would get only the facilities that the relevant laws permit.”

Responding to the report by the Additional District and Sessions Judge, the Punjab Prisons Department issued a clarification saying that all facilities in accordance with Rules 257 and 771 of Pakistan Prison Rules, 1978, were provided to the PTI chief.

It said a new toilet was constructed in his cell with five-foot-high walls, various fittings and toiletries and a door as well. The statement said Imran in his cell has been provided with a bed, pillow, mattress, table, chair, air cooler, exhaust fan, fruit, honey, dates, prayer mat, Holy Quran with English translation, several books for reading, a thermos with tea, newspapers and tissue papers. The Punjab Prisons Department said Imran was allowed to meet his family on Tuesdays and lawyers on Thursdays.

“For Imran’s medical facilities, five doctors have been appointed. One doctor is present at all times on an eight-hour duty,” the statement read, adding that the PTI chief is provided special meals on the doctor’s advice and with the approval of Punjab Inspector General of Prisons Mian Farooq Nazir. It further said the meals are served by a special team after a doctor’s inspection.

“CCTV cameras have been installed outside Imran Khan’s room for his and jail security. More than 4,000 CCTV cameras have been installed not only in District Jail Attock but also in other jails of Punjab for security purposes,” the statement concluded.

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