UNODC Legal Aid – Success Story

No more confined behind bars

A good practice of ensuring a UTP’s acquittal within a day!

Life for Jasifer Masih would have been precarious if his brother had not approached the UNODC legal aid team for help. Taken into custody and jailed for a fake car theft, Jasifer was languishing in a prison in Sind for more than 11 months. Each time he was brought to the court of justice, there wasn’t any prosecutor to support and facilitate his case for judicial hearing. It kept on pending amongst the heap of many other unsolicited under-trial cases that suffer just because either the offender cannot afford to seek a legal attorney or is simply unaware of his or her legal rights.

Thankfully, the legal aid help for Jasifer Masih was mobilised in time when Jasifer’s brother got to know about the UNODC’s Legal Aid Support Team and reached out to them for counsel. The team proactively followed up the case and was able to get endorsement through the Sindh Prison Department for Jasifer’s appearance him before the court of justice. As a result, Jasifer was able to be released on the same day.

A few of the reasons cited for the large majority of UTPs in the prisons of Sindh are either the delay in granting remissions by the competent authority or a lack of access to legal support. The UNODC is executing a project, Enhancing Police-Prosecutor Cooperation to reduce Overcrowding in prisons and Providing Legal Aid services to the Under-Trial Prisoners through the financial support of INL, which is laying the foundation for the provision of legal instruments, procedures and regulations that could be used along with creating enhanced awareness of UTPs of their legal rights to support their timely release, easing the burden of overcrowding and the flow of potential UTPs into the prisons.

The given story is just one step in the right direction that sets a benchmark of how provision of legal aid can help to address the lingering issue of UTPs.


UNODC’s Legal Aid Services to the Under-Trial Prisoners are supported by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL)