UNODC curates a COVID-response Virtual Advocacy Campaign for Criminal Justice System in Pakistan

First webinar on shaping prison response to preparedness concludes successfully

2 June 2020, Online - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has been at the forefront of supporting Criminal Justice Institutions in Pakistan to devise effective COVID-response mechanisms. In order to sustain its efforts in a systemic way, the UNODC Country Office in Pakistan has curated a Virtual Advocacy Campaign (VAC) on COVID-19 mitigation measures in collaboration with Criminal Justice Institutions in Pakistan. The campaign was activated through a webinar on ‘Shaping Prisons’ response through preparedness’ in collaboration with provincial Prisons Departments in Pakistan on 2nd June 2020.

Jeremy Milsom, Country Representative, UNODC Pakistan inaugurated the webinar, which was the first of a series of virtual discussions planned by UNODC. He underscored the need for creating a radical shift to respond to the challenges of COVID-19. The webinar had brought together more than 50 participants, representing senior leadership, practitioners and international experts in prisons, crime prevention and criminal justice.

Key speakers included IG Prisons from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Masood-ur-Rehman and his namesake, IG Prisons from Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Kazi Nazeer, DIG, Prisons from Sindh.

They shared and discussed ongoing initiatives in prison response to COVID-19 in Pakistan right from enforcement of the Sindh Epidemic Disease Act 2014 to health protection measures for quarantine and isolation facilities and mandatory screening of prisoners in Sindh. However, the participants agreed that a uniform national response across the entire country will further pave the way to respond to the disruptive nature of the

The associated challenges and opportunities are multilayered, including ‘overcrowding’ due to a large majority of the ‘Under-Trial-Prisoners’ (UTP) that intensifies the risk of the transmission of disease. Philipp Meissner, Inter-regional Advisor, Focal Point for Prison Reform, Justice Section from UNODC Vienna has presented an evidence-driven reality, whereby roughly 58,000 prisoners are reported to be infected with COVID-19 across the world.COVID-19 crisis that requires equally disruptive approaches to safeguard the prison staff and inmates from the novel nature of the crisis.

A call for action from Glenn Ross, Prisons Expert, Adam Smith International was endorsed by all with a mutual resolve for not letting a crisis go to waste, whereby one must seize the inherent opportunities to put in place measures that will have a lasting value for prison and criminal justice reforms. Tim Williams, Governance and Quality Assurance Specialist, UNODC summed up recommendations on including measures related to planning and preparedness, health and protection, training, inspection, communication and coordination to support a robust and effective response to COVID-19.



This Virtual Advocacy Campaign is curated by the UNODC Country Office, Pakistan as a COVID-response initiative to support the Criminal Justice Institutions in Pakistan.