Pakistan: provinces urged to use biometric identification in prisons


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Islamabad: The federal ombudsman has asked all provincial chief secretaries to prioritize the integration of the biometric identification system into all departments of the criminal justice system.

Federal mediator Syed Tahir Shahbaz also said the probation and parole system should be made more efficient by improving coordination. The system would help address the challenges of overcrowding, staff shortages and limited funding in prison facilities.

The Ombudsman’s office resolves complaints and provides relief to the public by conducting independent investigations into complaints of maladministration in any agency of the federal government.

Biometric identification

Fingerprints are the most widely used biometric tool, but other methods of identification through biometrics in use include facial recognition, iris and retina scanning, voice prints. Biometric technology helps correctional and detention facilities improve offender identification and improve system efficiency.

Number of prisoners

There are currently 88,687 prisoners in the country’s 116 prisons, with a capacity of 65,168 inmates, according to a recent report by the Federal Ombudsman’s Secretariat. There are at least 1,399 women and 1,430 minors detained in prisons.

The penitentiary system being modernized

The biometric system had been deployed in several prisons across Pakistan. In October, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s government installed a biometric identification system in 14 prisons and also signed an agreement with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for the upgrade and extension of the information system for the management of prisoners in the Province.

The Punjab Prison Department signed an agreement with the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and the Punjab Information Technology Board and started to implement the biometric management system in Punjab.

The 10th Quarterly Report on the Progress of the Implementation of Improving Prison Conditions by the Federal Ombudsman’s Secretariat detailed the reforms. Sindh Prisons and Corrections had installed a prison information and management system to monitor and verify the identity of inmates through the biometric identification system. That system was linked to the police and NADRA this month, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the government of Balochistan informed the mediator that the prison department has started working on the implementation of a biometric information management system that will be completed next year.


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