Punjab being the most heavily populated province of the country has altogether 41 prisons spread throughout the province. The Asma Jahangir (AGHS) Legal Aid Cell has been conducting regular visits to all of these prisons ever since its first visit nearly three decades ago in 1989. The aim behind these prison visits is two pronged, firstly to provide free legal aid to the destitute prisoners with a special focus on women, juvenile and minority prisoners and secondly to gain first hand access to the prison conditions allowing the team to observe, monitor and ensure the prisoners’ access to basic human rights.
From 1989 to 2019 the Asma Jaghangir (AGHS) Legal Aid Cell has conducted 828 prison visits. For each prison visit a formal permission is acquired from the prison authority. . All the coordination and management of the visits is conducted by the women protection officer Mrs. Robina Shaheen who also accompanies the team of lawyers to the prisons for the smooth flow of the formalities. Generally a team of five staff members visit a prison including four Advocates and the women protection officer. During the visit the Advocates meets with the prisoners who seek any form of legal assistance and provide them with sound legal advice. Furthermore, the Advocates collect all the required information and details to pursue the case in court and provide the prisoners with the contact information and emergency helpline numbers for our office.
By conducting these prison visits the Asma Jahangir (AGHS) Legal Aid cell is not only ensuring equal access to justice for all prisoner and promoting the rule of law but also upholding the protection guaranteed to every citizen under the Constitution of Pakistan.