11,000 Pakistanis in foreign jails 3,000 in Saudi, 357 in Indian prisons, relatives of inmates in Chinese jails protest in Peshawar demanding forthwith release

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Nation special report
ISLAMABAD: Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights has been informed that that as many as 10,853 Pakistan nationals are languishing in jails of different countries for various crimes.  The Senate body also directed the ministry of finance to issue funds for the release of overseas Pakistanis who have been languishing in jails of different countries. The committee also directed Secretary to stop lease of Railways land in Baluchistan.

The meeting, however, expressed resentment over the absence of K-Electric chief executive officer and directed IG Sindh to make sure his presence in the next meeting, which will be held on Tuesday.

ISLAMABAD: Sep 28 – Family members and relatives of Pakistanis imprisoned in China are protesting in favor of their release outside National Press Club. 

The committee meeting was held under the chair of Chairman Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokar at Parliament lodges Islamabad. The committee sought written recommendations on Human Rights situation in the next meeting.

Senator Muzafar Ali Shah while expressing concern said no valid respond is available about missing persons whereas the ministry of human rights and many other departments were working in that connection. Ministry of Human Rights Director General Muhammad Arshad said that a detailed written report will be presented in the next meeting.

Foreign Ministry Special Secretary Shah Jamal informed the committee that arrangements were being made to provide assistance to the overseas Pakistanis who are languishing in jail in different countries. He told the meeting that the foreign ministry in consultation with other relevant departments has recommended 14 years prison and Rs2 million of fine for those found involved in human smuggling.

Jamal further said more than 3,000 Pakistanis are languishing in different Saudi jail. Many of them are jailed despite completing their punishment due to lack of compensation money imposed by court for their crime. He further informed the meeting that the previous government had improved $480,000 for their free but that money could not be released yet. The special secretary said as many as 181 Pakistanis can get free from this money.

The meeting was informed that as many as 10,853 Pakistan nationals are languishing in jails in Turkey, Malaysia, China, Behrain and other countries. Senator Usman Kakar said unfortunately some influentials are involved in human smuggling and caused defaming the country. He demanded of the committee to take counter measures in this regard.

He said as many as 35,000 Pakistanis travelled to Turkey last years and 23,000 in the current years. He said incidents are being reported every day. So far, 1,700 Pakistanis had been died in Saudi Arabia only whereas many Pakistan nations have been killed in boat incident in Turkey.

Imprisoned Pakistanis

According to a Dawn report, estimated 11,000 Pakistanis imprisoned abroad. Of these detainees, over 5,000 are in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, where 96 per cent of Pakistan’s migrant worker population is concentrated, where most remittances come from.

Yet, these are the countries that have the highest population of Pakistani prisoners.

The highest number of Pakistanis imprisoned abroad is in Saudi Arabia at 3,309, which also executes the most Pakistanis: 74 since 2014 and 15 so far this year, mainly for drugs. Most drug smugglers are poor labourers or families coerced or duped by recruiting firms and agents.

According to detainees in a report by Justice Project Pakistan on Pakistani prisoners in the Saudi criminal justice system, they did not seek consular services from the Pakistani embassy or consulate because they did not believe assistance would be provided.

Prisoners said that Pakistani officials rarely visit Saudi prisons, unlike representatives of other countries. Those who contacted embassy officials said that the only assistance provided was with deportation procedures. Only one defendant said he met with a Pakistani official during his trial.

Pakistani in Chinese jails

The relatives of Pakistanis, languishing in Chinese jails under different charges for the last seveal years, staged a protest demonstration outside the Peshawar Press Club on Friday and demanded of Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar to ensure their early release from the prisons.

The people were holding demonstration under the banner of Justice and Human Rights for Prisoners. They lamented that laws were changed in China every now and then as most prisoners had completed their sentences according to the laws which were functional in China in the year 2016.

Moreover, they demanded of the government that prisoners should be brought back to Pakistan to complete the remaining sentences in their own country. Besides, they revealed that most prisoners were suffering from different fatal diseases mainly due to the rough weather.

They also referred to a statement of Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar that the issue would be resolved amicably between the two countries in September 2018 to ensure safe return of Pakistanis languishing in Chinese jails. They said the prisoners were not given proper food and asked the PM to take up the issue with the Chinese authorities.

Pakistanis in Iranian jails

Following the Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries, Iran emerges as the top destination for human and drug traffickers from Pakistan. A large number of Pakistanis have found themselves coerced into acting as drug mules across the border between Iran and Baluchistan.

In July 2017, four Pakistanis were executed in Iran after the authorities claimed that drugs were discovered in the truck that they were travelling in. This included a 10-year-old boy, whose only crime was to be in the truck at the time the drugs were discovered.

In the same month, another Pakistani national, who had been arrested at the age of 13 on similar charges, was executed following eight years in a Zahedan prison.

According to media report, by last year there are currently over 189 Pakistanis imprisoned in Iran, a significant majority of whom form part of the 5,300 prisoners of Iran’s death row for drug-related crimes. With over 567 executions in Iran in 2017 alone for drug crimes, these Pakistanis face imminent executions.

Pak prisoners in India 

Meanwhile, Additional Attorney General on behalf of Federal Government has submitted report regarding imprisoned Pakistanis fishermen in Indian prisons.  According to the details, the report based on Maritime Security Agency and Interior Ministry has been submitted before the apex court, according to which 357 Pakistani prisoners have been found in Indian jails up to Jul 2018.  Of which 249 are civilians and 108 are fishermen while total Indian prisoners detained in Pakistani jails are 445 of which 392 civilians held under different sections and 53 are the Indian fishermen.

According to the report, in order to collect the data of Pakistani prisoners detained in Indian jails a website will be developed indicating thereby their particulars like sentence awarded and the nature of case.

Government of Pakistan shall try to ensure councilor access to the Pakistan prisoners. The mechanism to implement the recommendations of Pakistan-India judicial Committee shall be chalked out. The policy will be formulated with the consent of the Maritime Security Agency and Foreign Ministry as to how further detention of Pakistani fishermen be avoided. Pakistan boats will be prevented from entering into Indian Ocean.

Payment of fine imposed on the Pakistani prisoners shall also be ensured from the Pakistan Community Welfare & Education Fund. Such funds are arranged by the Pakistani diplomats and high commissioners. Recovery of boats and freedom of prisoners shall also be ensured, sources said.