Appeal by families: Four Pakistanis ‘falsely imprisoned’ abroad

Call on Saudi, Pakistani govts to intervene.


Fazal Khaliq December 25, 2011

SWAT:


The families of four Pakistani prisoners currently held in a Saudi jail have appealed for their release to the governments of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.


Ten years ago the four Pakistanis went to Riyadh, on a legal visa, where they were hired as day labourers. Their work involved loading plywood boards into trucks. One day, however, police raided one of the vehicles and found hemp inside the boards.

Consequently, all of the men were arrested and subsequently sentenced to three years imprisonment with a 3.9million riyal fine.

At a press conference, the family members claimed that the contractor was also arrested and confessed to his crime – and said the four labourers were innocent. According to the families, the original convict was later hanged by the Saudi government but the four innocents were still sentenced to jail.

“Instead of three years, they have spent more than 10 years in jail. Now the Saudi government refuses to release them,” Sikander, the father of one of the prisoners said. “We appeal to the government of Pakistan and human rights agencies to take steps for the release of the four prisoners.”

Sikander explains how the family’s financial situation has gone from bad to worse: “I wanted to tackle our poverty for which I borrowed Rs300,000 for a Saudi visa to send my son abroad. He went there to change our standard of life, but he was imprisoned instead. Because he could not financially support me we are in great troubles.”

The children of the prisoners also wait for their fathers’ return. Luqman, 15, says: “I was five years old when my father went abroad. At first I waited for toys to be sent by my father but then I gave up. But one thing bothered me a lot – when often I don’t have answers when my classmates ask about my father. I appeal to the government of Pakistan to do something for the release of my father.”

Raja Liqat Ali, chairman of the Pakistan International Human Rights Orgnanisation, says he will take up the case with the ministry of human rights.

“This is clearly a violation of human rights as they have already completed the court’s punishment. Now if they cannot pay the fine due to poverty the court should have imposed imprisonment instead of it,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 25th, 2011.

COMMENTS (7)

S.R.H. Hashmi | 10 years ago | Reply

It is bad enough that our government did not do anything for Dr. Aafia Sddiqui, not even to arrange for her to serve the remainder of her sentence here in Pakistan At least, the government should do something for the poor labourers, more so when they have already spent in prison seven years more than their announced sentence of three years. Most probably, they are still being held because of non-payment of the fine of Riyals 3.9 million imposed on them, which the poor labourers or their relatives have no hope of being able to pay.

I think if our leaders pay a bit of attention to this case, they can get these people released, especially when the accused person, who has been hanged, did admit that the labourers were innocent.

I hope those in authority do something.

Javed | 10 years ago | Reply

I do not wish to comment on the innocence/guilt of these people. I write this only because I have never read about a Pakistani convicted abroad actually admitting his wrongdoing. They are always innocent. Wonder why?

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