x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Hundreds of Pakistani prisoners in Abu Dhabi to be sent home

The Pakistan embassy confirms that nearly 300 prisoners who are serving time for minor offences, will be repatriated in the coming weeks.

Nearly 300 Pakistani prisoners will be transferred to jails in their home country within weeks, according to the embassy.

The move comes after a prisoner transfer deal was signed with the UAE last year.

“After completion of legal formalities in the coming weeks, it is expected that almost 300 Pakistanis would be eligible to transfer to Pakistan,” said a spokesman for the country’s embassy.

Only those convicted of minor offences are eligible to be sent home. The costs of the transfer and air travel will be met by Pakistan, while the UAE will cover costs incurred here.

“Arrangements are currently being finalised,” the spokesman added. “Once done, especially the necessary arrangements in

Pakistani jails to absorb the additional number of prisoners, the process is expected to commence shortly.”
Abu Dhabi prison officials could not be reached for confirmation.

The Transfer of Sentenced Persons agreement between the UAE and Pakistan was signed last February. A deal was also signed with India in November.

According to the Pakistan Embassy there are between 1,200 and 1,400 Pakistanis in jails across the UAE. About 800 of them would be eligible to leave under the agreement.

The Indian Embassy said there had been no further update since the ratification of their agreement in December.

Indian authorities believe up to 1,200 of their citizens are in UAE jails for offences including murder, drugs and petty crimes, including drinking and selling alcohol.

The treaty allows inmates convicted of minor offences to volunteer to complete their terms in their home countries.

Those serving sentences for murder, drug offences and financial crimes are not eligible.

Jamil Ahmed Khan, Pakistan’s ambassador to the UAE, said in December that the agreement aimed to allow prisoners to be closer to their relatives. “I’ll send them to prisons near their native towns so they can have access to their families,” he said.

Indian authorities had earlier said the transfer process could take as long as nine months as it depended on the willingness of individual state governments in India to take them back.

nhanif@thenational.ae