Introduction

ICWT is an NGO which has been established to resolve the issues; such as delay in accessing the justice for under trial prisoners as there are altogether too many prisoners waiting trial in Pakistan prisons. This is one of the major problems faced by under trial prisoners that the never-ending delay in the commencement and conclusion of their trial has created a no-entry-to-justice gate in front of them. The NGO has observed that the most prisons are fully packed and over the capacity just because of the old traditional judiciary system.

ICWT says that if criminal justice is not dispensed speedily it will demolish the political and economical system of the country. It also presents the fact that when the under trial prisoners are kept in the prisons for long period they face so many problems which destroy their future lives.

These problems are observed as:
  • Prison violence,
  • Criminalizing effect of a prison,
  • Homosexual abuse,
  • Health problems,
  • Drug abuse,
  • Effect on the families of prisoners,
  • mentally illness and
  • psychological disorders.

The conclusion of one of the ICWT’s research is that many prisoners are not produced in their respective courts either on time or on their due date. There are many reasons but the main reason is lake of latest communication technology implementation in the courts and jails. The NGO has provided a “Video Conferencing” solution in a legal manner, along with the feasibility of the overall implementation process from the scratch, hardware and software requirements, training and support.

As the system of video conferencing is already implemented in many other countries, it has proved the following advantages:

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  • All the prisoners can be produced on a timely basis.
  • It obviates the need to produce remand prisoners in courts. The extension of remand can place electronically from the prison itself.
  • There is a reduction in the number of adjournments, which is often the result of an accused not being present at all or on time at the hearing.
  • It opens the possibility of digitizing documents and court records thereby systematizing, simplifying and speeding up the whole process.
  • Speedy trial of cases can be ensured due to the time saved in the whole process.
  • All the prisoners can be produced on a timely basis.
  • It obviates the need to produce remand prisoners in courts. The extension of remand can place electronically from the prison itself.
  • There is a reduction in the number of adjournments, which is often the result of an accused not being present at all or on time at the hearing.
  • It opens the possibility of digitizing documents and court records thereby systematizing, simplifying and speeding up the whole process.
  • Speedy trial of cases can be ensured due to the time saved in the whole process.
  • An early trial can help check the overcrowding of jails.
  • Speedier adjudication can also check the contamination of first time offenders into becoming full fledged criminals.
  • Magistrates can now personally observe the prisoners and interact with them directly instead of mechanically signing the extension of remand papers forwarded by the court staff and the escorting police personnel.
  • Prisoners get to speak freely to the Magistrates to vent their grievances without fear of retribution due to the one-to-one communication facility.
  • They do not have to wear shackles during the journey to and from courts, to prevent them from escaping.
  • Congestion in the jail vans and court lock-ups leading to unhealthy and insecure conditions will be reduced greatly.
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  • The police do not have to worry about sparing men who are already in short supply, to escort the undertrials to courts or worry about prisoners trying to escape during transit.
  • Safety and security of the prisoners transported to and from courts will vastly improve since it will minimize the interaction and fights between warring gangs in the jail vans during transportation and in the court lock-ups.
  • Prisoners will be relieved of repetitive periodical strains, which they are subjected to while being taken to courts just for the sake of extending their judicial remands.
  • The menace of smuggling in prohibited/ contraband articles like drugs, currencies, weapons, telecom equipments, etc. will be contained because of reduced visits of prisoners to the outside world till they are released on bail or discharged or acquitted.
  • Most importantly, it saves a lot of financial and manpower resources.
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