The Ansar Burney Trust has been working for the protection and rights of children in custody for over 25 years now and we will continue to fight for this just cause for as long as necessary.
We estimate that there are as many as 4,500 juveniles in Pakistani prisons. These include children who are awaiting trial, those already sentenced and even those who were born into imprisonment; with no fault of their own but because their own mothers were prisoners there.
Those who were born in prison used to bear the burden of their birth certificates which explicitly stated the name of jail they were born in; and thereby barring innumerable opportunities in life. However this practice was abolished in 1989 when the Ansar Burney Trust successfully lobbied the government and Mr. Ansar Burney met the then Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto – who issued new directives to write city of birth rather than prison.
Those children who are born in prison are forcibly taken away from their mothers at the age of five, without her having any clue as to their whereabouts. In many cases, that is the last time the mother and child ever see each other.
The most shocking case handled by the Ansar Burney Trust regarding children who are born in prison was that of Mohammed Akhtar – who was born after his mother was sexually assaulted in prison. She died five years later, but Akhtar was kept in prison his whole life from birth to the age of 40; never seeing the outside world. He was only released when his case was taken on by Ansar Burney, Advocate.
Such is the prison system in Pakistan, where the extreme lack of care and responsibility has resulted in many similar cases.
Prisoners (including children) are kept in prisons for several years awaiting trial; and in many instances due to administrative negligence – such as instances where prisoners who have served their entire sentencing are forced to spend several more years because no one has bothered to release them.