JPP welcomes extradition agreement between Pakistan, Saudi Arabia

LAHORE: Justice Project Pakistan has welcomed the decision of the federal cabinet to approve an extradition agreement with Saudi authorities.

This will allow Pakistani prisoners to serve out the remainder of their sentences in their home countries.

As of now, 2795 Pakistani citizens remain detained in Saudi Arabia.

Since October 2014, 67 Pakistanis have been beheaded.

The highest numbers of foreign nationals who have been executed have been Pakistani citizens, underscoring the need for this long overdue agreement.

At least 9,360 Pakistanis are detained in prisons all over the world, with 5798 in Gulf countries alone.

JPP stated that not only must prisoner transfer agreements be negotiated with all of the Gulf countries but a consular protection policy is critical to ensure that all 9,360 of them are accorded their right to due process and fair trial.

A report by Justice Project Pakistan and Human Rights Watch "Caught in a Web: The Treatment of Pakistanis in the Saudi Criminal Justice System" has found Pakistani citizens imprisoned in Saudi Arabia subjected to rampant due process violations, including long periods of detention without charge or trial.

Saudi Arabia has signed similar agreements with several other countries in the past.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are close diplomatic allies, yet previous attempts to put such an agreement in place have stalled.

In December 2014, JPP filed a petition with the Lahore High Court, compelling the Pakistan government to provide consular protection and support to Pakistanis imprisoned and facing imminent execution abroad.

JPP Executive Director Sarah Belal said, “We appreciate the swift action by the prime minister to help ensure due process for our citizens."

"The ministries of foreign affairs and interior must also be commended for their efforts to provide some solace to the families of Pakistani prisoners who have suffered for years in an unjust system.

“Considering that these Pakistani migrant workers sent home $4.8 billion in remittances last year alone, this is the least we can do for such vital contributors to our economy,” she added.

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