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Islamabad: The federal ombudsman has directed all the provincial chief secretaries to integrate the biometric identification system with all criminal justice system departments on a priority basis.

Federal Ombudsman Syed Tahir Shahbaz has also said that the probation and parole system should be made more effective by improving coordination. The system would help address the challenges of overcrowding, staff shortages, and limited funding at the prison facilities.

The Ombudsman office resolves complaints and offers relief to the public by carrying out independent investigations into complaints about maladministration in any federal government agency.

Biometric identification

Fingerprints are the most widely used biometric tool but other methods of identification through biometrics in use include facial recognition, iris and retinal scanning, voice-prints. Biometric technology help correctional and detention facilities improve offender identification and improve the efficiency of the system.

Number of prisoners

There are currently 88,687 prisoners in the country’s 116 jails capacity of 65,168 in-mates, according to a recent Federal Ombudsman Secretariat report. There are at least 1,399 female and 1,430 juvenile prisoners in the jails.

Prison system being upgraded

The biometric system had been deployed in several prisons across Pakistan. In Octo-ber, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has installed a biometric identification sys-tem in 14 prisons and also signed an agreement with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for the upgradation and extension of the Prisoners Management Information System in the province.

The Punjab prisons department has signed an agreement with the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and the Punjab Information Technology Board and has started implementing the biometric management system in Punjab.

The 10th quarterly report on the progress of implementation in improving conditions in jails by the Federal Ombudsman Secretariat detailed the reforms. Sindh Prisons and Correctional Service had installed prisons management and information system to monitor and verify prisoners’ identity through the biometric identification system. This system was linked with police and NADRA this month, the report said.

Meanwhile, the Balochistan government informed the ombudsman that the prisons department had started work on the implementation of a biometric information management system which would be completed next year