x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

UAE-Pakistan prisoner swap delay should end soon

The Pakistani ambassador has admitted that his government is the cause of delays to a planned prisoner swap with the UAE.

The Pakistani ambassador has admitted that his government is the cause of delays to a planned prisoner swap with the UAE.

After visiting the Dubai Central Jail on Monday, Jamil Khan said the exchange had been approved by the UAE's federal Government, but not yet by his.

The swap was agreed in Abu Dhabi in October by the Minister of Interior, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, and his Pakistani counterpart, Rehman Malik.

The exchange will affect nearly 2,800 Pakistani prisoners and many Emiratis. Under the treaty, the inmates would complete their sentences in their home countries, making it easier for their families to visit them in jail.

However, Mr Khan said there had been "Cabinet divisions" over the approval process in his country.

He pledged to pressure his government for a "very expeditious approval" to allow the swap to take place "immediately".

Mr Khan expressed the hope that the treaty would be approved at the Pakistani Cabinet's next meeting, probably within a fortnight or so.

He indicated that the sticking point was monitoring, and there was a need to "draw a mechanism under which monitoring of each prisoner is done proficiently, so that the true spirit of conviction by courts is implemented in letter and spirit".

The Dubai jail alone houses 516 Pakistanis, convicted for offences including murder, drug trafficking, forgery, bad debts and traffic accidents.

The ambassador said he would use his limited resources to help those convicted of minor offences such as failure to pay fines and bad debts.

 

ffaruqui@thenational.ae