Mentally Ill Prisoners
The need for a mental health project arose due to the gaps within Pakistan’s laws on the trial of mentally charged individuals that were drafted by the British in the late nineteenth century. Due to little collaboration between mental health experts and legal practitioners, Pakistan’s lawyers and judges routinely overlook or misdiagnose mentally ill defendants. This makes it difficult for mentally ill defendants to get a fair trial or which is also inimical to the Pakistani Constitution. The predicament of these defendants is made worse to the extent that many are not able to understand the trial proceedings against them.
Justice Project Pakistan has drafted a mental health manual for legal practitioners through which it hopes to start a conversation on this conundrum within the country. The manual is drafted on the premise that law students, mental health practitioners, lawyers and judges would read it and use it to reform the current state of mental health laws in the country.
Justice Project Pakistan has long dedicated its efforts to help those who have suffered because of Pakistan’s unreliable and botched criminal justice system. JPP holds the firm belief that provisions regarding the trial of lunatics in the Criminal Procedure Code should be resuscitated in criminal trials all across the country. Understanding the quandary of these defendants and providing them with a proper mechanism for redresser can certainly avoid injustice being meted out to many mentally ill defendants. This manual is one such endeavor through which JPP aims to create such an avenue by sensitizing legal practitioners.
The manual contains all the academic text regarding the trial of mentally ill prisoners in law books concerning the criminal justice system in Pakistan. It also has all the available case law and precedent established over the years concerning the trial of lunatics, since the inception of Chapter 34 in Criminal Procedure Code.
The manual draws a comparison of the prevalent laws in different jurisdictions all across the world; which efficiently provide relief to such persons. It also has details of ground realities where legal and medical practitioners have highlighted the shortcomings and the prevalent culture in the criminal justice system across the country.
With all these features embodied in the manual, Justice Project Pakistan aims to provide a coherent document, which is accessible and easy to understand and which aims to make the right to a fair trial an important part of the criminal justice system in Pakistan.