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Vortrag mit Podiumsdiskussion: Access to Justice for Prisoners – An Inalienable Right? The Example of Pakistan

Critical issues in dealing with criminal offenders within the legal, court and prison system—Insights into the work of a Pakistani Lawyer.


Guest Speaker:

Nida Paracha, Advocate,
Legal Aid Office, Karachi Pakistan

Panel Participants:

Nida Paracha, Prof. Hans-Jürgen Kerner,
Dr. Elmar Weitekamp, Dr. Beate Ehret,
Philipp Karnowski


Montag, 16.7.2012
Raum: Hörsaal II, Nr. F122, Sand 6
Zeit: 16 Uhr c.t.

Abstract

Access to justice is the essence of any criminal justice system. In Pakistan, even though this right exists on paper (i.e. it is an enforceable right under the constitution) it is unfortunately not realized in practice. The limitations are a consequence of insufficient financial resources, systemic corruption within the prison, police and judicial system and poor governance. As in most developing countries it is generally the poor who are incarcerated in Pakistan. With regard to juvenile offenders, the prison is overflowing with children who are not only poor but also lack skills, both social and vocational. They have grown up surrounded by crime prevalent in their neighborhoods exposed to all sorts of drugs or arms without the means to do something about it. The State does not offer them a way out or opportunities for growth, improvement and education—neither before nor after the commission of an offense. Most children who commit crime for the first time have hope of improvement, but once they have entered the judicial system and particularly when imprisoned, whether it is while awaiting their trial or after adjudication, they are at a high risk of becoming hardened criminals. Unfortunately, for the most part, these problems are completely ignored. Even though legal representation is a constitutional right, the Legal Aid Office is the only government funded resource in Pakistan (available only in the province of Sindh) providing free legal assistance to women, juvenile prisoners, and others affected by unjust laws and institutional ignorance.

Bio

Nida Paracha completed her B.A/LLB from the Lahore University of Management sciences in June 2009. She began her legal career as an associate at a corporate law firm in Karachi –Rizvi, but soon left to pursue her passion in the jurisprudential aspects of law and disparate conceptions of justice. Since early 2010 she has been working at the Legal Aid Office, Karachi representing juveniles in court and conducting research in prisons. As a lecturer at the Hamdard School of Law she has also helped develop the B.A curriculum and is involved in many publications. She has conducted short-term research projects with the Access to Justice Program, Maldives supported by the United Nations Development Program as well as the New York Times. Her main areas of interest are alternative theorizations of law and justice, legal anthropology, social movements and the politics of identity.