x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Prisoner swap deal will let Indian inmates go home to serve sentences

Agreement was signed by Sheikh Saif bin Zayed and Indian minister.

DUBAI // The India-based Migrants Rights Council has praised a prisoner transfer deal between Indian and Emirati authorities.

The Transfer of Sentenced Persons agreement was signed by the Interior Minister, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, and the Indian home minister, P Chidambaram, on November 23 in New Delhi.

The deal will help many Indian prisoners who have been "languishing" in UAE prisons, said P Narayana Swamy, the president of the rights council.

"It is a very good initiative," he added. "The treaty will provide a great relief to prisoners who are eager to return to India and spend the remainder of their terms in Indian jails."

There are about 1,200 Indian nationals in UAE jails, according to the Indian Embassy, mostly for petty offences such as the consumption and movement of alcohol.

Mr Swamy said the rights council, a non-governmental organisation based in Hyderabad, had already identified 18 people who would prefer to serve their sentence in an Indian prison.

"We have submitted a petition to the prime minister of India in this regard and requested the government to transfer them to Indian jails," he said.

The council has been active in taking up the causes of migrant workers in the Middle East and other countries.

Mr Swamy is currently in Dubai, along with two other members of the council, to negotiate the release of six Indians from Karimnagar who are serving sentences for the murder of a Nepalese man in 2008.

"We are trying to get in touch with the family of the murdered man so that the blood money can be arranged for the issue of a pardon letter," he said.

Mr Swamy added that he and a delegation from the rights council would be going to Al Aweer Prison tomorrow to meet some Indian inmates.

"Most of these convicted men come from poor families and have no support system," he said.