NA body seeks extensive deliberations on prisoner transfer agreements with foreign countries

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ISLAMABAD, Nov 20 (APP): The National Assembly’s sub-committee on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Wednesday decided to hold extensive deliberations over legal implications of prisoner transfer agreements with foreign countries.

The sub-committee, met with Mahreen Razaq Bhutto in the chair, also summoned the Ministry of Law and Justice’s officials in its next meeting.

The meeting discussed the ‘transfer to offender’ agreement’s pros and cons and underlined the need to rectify the lacunae in current laws.

The panel was informed that there was a need to take note of the misuse of this agreement by the transferred prisoners to escape complete jail sentence, awarded by the host country.

A senior officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the panel that the country had signed ‘transfer to offender’ accord with nine foreign countries including China, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Thailand, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan and others.

“The prisoner transfer agreement with China and Turkey await ratification,”he said while pointing out that the Chinese authorities had pointed out the possible manipulation of the local laws by the shifted prisoner in their home country to lessen their jail terms.

He said the United Kingdom had also expressed reservation in the past and signed the agreement on the condition that all the transferred prisoners would serve their complete jail sentence before being released.

Citing an example, he said Pakistan had signed the prisoner transfer agreement with Thailand last year and paid US 35,000 dollars for the transfer of 48 Pakistani prisoners who qualified the eligibility criteria.

There were some 88 Pakistani prisoners languishing in Thai’s jails, he added.

Under the agreement, he explained the prisoners had to be transferred in three batches, comprising 17, 17 and 19 individuals in each cohort respectively.

He said recently, the country had repatriated 17 Pakistani criminals from Thailand under the prisoner transfer agreement. But unfortunately, many repatriated criminals had filed the remission plea in the court to get release order.

The Foreign Ministry’s officer urged the sub-committee to request Ministries of Interior, and Law and Justice to amend the existing laws so that the shifted inmates could serve the same penalty as given in the host country.

He said there was a need to further improve the existing laws to avert manipulation of the agreement.

He denied the applicability in current scenario while responding to the demand of Ministry of Narcotics for expansion of the countries’ list with whom Pakistan had signed the ‘transfer to offender’ agreement.

Federal Secretary of Ministry of Narcotics said at least the country should negotiate with the Middle Eastern Countries for transfer of prisoners involved in drugs trade.

He said the initiative would help the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) to dismantle the drug peddlers’ network here in Pakistan.

The secretary said the Foreign Office should inform the committee about the negotiations held with multiple countries regarding transfer of criminals involved in drugs related crimes.

The Foreign Office officials said Pakistan was in contact with Saudi Arabia for finalization of such agreement. He said the committee should ask the Ministry of Interior for expediting its efforts in this regard.

The Chairman Committee underscored the importance of strong coordination among the relevant stakeholders to curb drugs and human smuggling.

The committee was also informed about the different issues faced by the relevant departments with regard to human resources.

The committee meeting was attended by the Member of National Assembly Syed Javed Hassnain and officials of Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Aviation and the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation.

 

VNS Islamabad

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