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Half of Paktia prisoners lack access to defense lawyers

Half of Paktia prisoners lack access to defense lawyers

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Jan 29, 2019 - 20:38

GARDEZ (Pajhwok): Around 50 percent of prisoners in southeastern Paktia province lack access to defense lawyers and their cases are not processed on time, the Independent Human Rights Commission (IHRC)’s regional office said on Tuesday.

The IHRC said most of the prisoners held at the central jail in Gardez, the provincial capital, were kept without being tried and their cases investigated.

IHRC head for Paktia Noor Ahmad Shahim told Pajhwok Afghan News that dozens of prisoners had registered their complaints with the rights organization about not completing their cases in legal time.

Shahim said the prisoners’ time was being wasted for different reasons during investigation process and even not decided by the court in the legal term.

Mohammad Aslam, a prisoner at the Gardez jail, said he was innocent but his case could not be decided over the past two and a half years.

Aslam said his case was investigated in 28 months and he and his two brothers had so far spent seven years in jail despite being innocent because they had no access to a defense lawyer.

Meanwhile, the provincial council members also confirmed the issue and said most of the prisoners’ rights had been violated.

Mohammad Rahman Qadari, a PC member, said: “Yesterday we went to the jail and saw an individual who spent 18 months in prison before he was declared innocent, said he had a defense lawyer, he might not have spent such a long time in jail.”

Paktia prison’s director Brig. Gen. Afandi Gul Rabati told Pajhwok they had created a joint coordination board of the court and attorney for accessing prisoners’ cases in a timely manner.

Rabati said the cases were quickly processed at the primary and appellant courts, but delayed at the Supreme Court where all cases of the country arrived.

Attaullah Fikri, the appeal court’s head, also confirmed the issue and said there was only one defense lawyer with the justice department and he alone could not access cases of all prisoners.

Fikri termed legal institutions’ assistance in this regard as important and said they should appoint defense lawyers for prisoners like others provinces.

According to Article 31 of the Constitution, in criminal cases, the State shall appoint a defense attorney for the indigent. Confidentiality of conversations, correspondence, and communications between the accused and their attorneys shall be secure from any kind of violation. The duties and powers of defense attorneys shall be regulated by law.

pk/ma

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