Cries of shutting down the Guantanamo prison have been around for some time now, reason being the inhuman conditions at the prison which rather than reforming the prisoners is forcing them to become hardcore terrorists once they are released. Numerous examples could be quoted in this context. Such huge global outcry in this regard had bent Barack Obama to include the closure of this notorious prison in his election manifesto and later order to shut it down for good with detainees shifted and tried in the US.
Keeping in mind the above scenario we do have several Guantanamo like prisons in Sindh, Pakistan especially the Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur central jail, which grace the headlines every now and then for prisoners taking policemen hostage or using other means to register their protest against subhuman treatment i.e. overcrowded jails, barbaric torture, alleged extortion from the prisoners , unhygienic living conditions, jail hospitals lacking requisite facilities, inadequate quality of food, jailers receiving bribe from their relatives, prisoners not being presented before the court when due and lacunas in the provision of legal aid to the deserving prisoners.
Although one is in consensus that these prisoners are alleged or convicted murderers, kidnappers, rapists or involved in other heinous crimes. But in today’s world the term served in jail should be reformatory i.e. to make prisoners responsible and useful citizens of the society after their release from jail rather than serve a purpose to unleash the rebel inside to avenge what they had to suffer in jail which was a little more than what they deserved, results of which would be no less than a catastrophe for the society.
Internationally , a prisoner or a detainee has a right to be protected by authorities in the case of assault or rape, right to Medical Treatment ,right to freedom of expression, reading materials, and communication ,right to express concern with the prison’s standard of living, right to a court of law with regards to prison authorities ,right to freedom of religion ,right to access to a court of law, right to drink safe water, right to get treated as same as everyone else and right to food and clothing.
Nevertheless, there is light at the end of the tunnel with steps taken to develop technical or vocational skills among the prisoners and the initiation of Rs.300 million Jail reform program by the sindh government are the right steps towards transforming these Guantanamo like prisons into reformatory centers, as they say better late than never.