When justice is held hostage

The new book Justice Imprisoned focuses on custodial deaths and official executions of prisoners around the world, writes Humra Quraishi

If one wants to know how many amongst us are getting killed and done away with, by the State governments of the different countries of the world, then its best if you read Justice Imprisoned authored by the well-know academic, Dr Javed Jamil.

In his latest book, he focuses on custodial deaths and also on the official executions of the prisoners in the different countries of the world.

To quote him, “The net result of the campaign by the economic fundamentalists against capital punishment and the system of justice developed in accordance with their wishes is that now more people are ‘punished’ by the police than by the courts. The capital or corporal punishment has officially ended as per the constitutions. But it is now given by the police, based on their own assumptions and biases, and not by the courts, based on the evidences. There are more deaths in police custody and encounters than through death sentences executed at the orders of the courts…It can easily be estimated that the annual global number of deaths in police custody is in tens of thousands. It is not only the deaths but severe torture is also common in police custody and prisons…And yet, politicians routinely dismiss these accusations and, instead, always give the police the benefit of the doubt by highlighting the difficulty of police work.”

It’s an extremely grim scenario yet we seem to believe that we are living in developed times! In fact, the political rulers of the day are coming up with the various development theories when the fact is that the human being is facing such trying traumatic times that he or she may not be even left alive to recount the horrors faced! After all, he or she could be killed in the encounter killings if not hanged to death, not overlook deaths in custody and detention. And not to be bypassed the significant fact that prison conditions can be so very harsh and torturous that many prisoners are unable to take the strain and die rather too steadily.

The book carries an abundance of facts and factors to the present day scenario in our country and in the countries of the world  a scenario where many innocents could be sitting semi-dying and languishing in prisons for years. Not to be overlooked the vital fact that a large percentage of the prison population are under- trials, who are technically innocent, as they are not convicted, not proven guilty of any crime !

Were we better off in those yesteryears or in today’s supposed developed times! To quote Dr Javed Jamil from the preface to the book, “Despite trillions of dollars involved in the system of law and order, despite tens of millions performing the law enforcing duties, despite tens of millions of counsellors that vouch to defend justice, despite millions of judges that preside over tens of thousands of courts, despite tens of thousands of prisons that are housing tens of millions of the alleged and convicted criminals, lawlessness and crimes are zooming horrendously with every passing day with billions of men and women being subjected to numerous kinds of crime including murderous and sexual assaults each year. How can then we call it even a satisfactory, what to speak of an excellent system of law and justice ?”

After reading this book, one is left sitting in that introspective mood. Wondering aloud: Where are the open prisons where the prisoners can at least breath freely and whole-heartedly? Why are more and more human beings getting stuffed into prison hell-holes in these corona-ridden lockdown times? Why is that the number of the under-trials has been going up the graph? Why is it that we don’t get to read more of those investigative reports of what’s taking place behind those high prison walls?

Above all, isn’t it time that an independent commission or a watch dog group takes a look at the condition of our prisons and prisoners!