Fresh push for release of Pakistanis jailed abroad

Published: August 31, 2018
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PHOTO: FILE

PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Senator Rehman Malik has demanded that Pakistani embassies and missions must abide by their primary responsibility to provide consular services to all those who have been imprisoned and detained in foreign jails.

A delegation of Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), led by Barrister Sarah Belal met Senator Rehman Malik on Thursday and discussed matters related to Pakistani prisoners languishing in Iran, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and other countries’ jails.

The meeting was also attended by Malaika Raza of Pakistan People Party (PPP).

He has asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to instruct all Pakistani embassies to provide complete category-wise data of Pakistani prisoners abroad, including the nature of their offences and their sentences.

Jailed abroad: 362 foreigners in jail despite serving terms

The JPP delegation, on behalf of the family members of overseas prisoners, appealed to raise the issue of Pakistani nationals imprisoned in different countries with the government of Pakistan as they are facing the most vulnerable situation, facing harshest punishments and lacking legal assistance.

JPP Executive Director Sarah Belal briefed the Senate Standing Committee on Interior Chairman Senator Rehman Malik that there are currently 189 Pakistani nationals in Iranian jails – many of them sentenced for drug offences.

She added that on 25th October, 2017, the Guardian Council of Islamic Republic of Iran approved a bill easing the application of death penalty in certain cases.

As a result of the amendment, Pakistani citizens imprisoned on Iranian death row are now entitled to commutation of their death sentences.

Malik commended the Iranian government’s efforts for easing their drug laws and providing relief to those who have been sentenced under previous standards.

He vowed to take up the issue with the government.

Criticizing the previous governments for their lack of support for Pakistanis abroad, Malik said, “Our government initiated a prisoner transfer agreement with Iran but the subsequent governments failed to build upon it.”

Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior while taking notice of the issue directed the Ministry of Interior to submit a comprehensive report to the committee about Pakistani nationals imprisoned in different countries particularly Iran, KSA and UAE.

Malik also appreciated barrister Belal for her role in bringing back 40 Pakistani nationals back to the country from Bagram by providing them with the necessary legal assistance.

There are currently 9,360 Pakistanis imprisoned in other countries.

Without access to lawyers, consular assistance and impartial translators these prisoners are at the mercy of local courts.

These destitute Pakistanis have also been failed by the Pakistani missions abroad.

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