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India-Pakistan panel lays down guidelines for prisoners

Published: 03rd May 2013 04:09 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd May 2013 05:52 PM   |  A+A-

By PTI

An India-Pakistan judicial panel, that visited Lahore's Jinnah Hospital where Sarabjit Singh was under treatment, has recommended that jail authorities "ensure adequate security for all Indian prisoners" to avoid such incidents in future.

"The Committee noted the unfortunate incident of violent attacks on two Indian prisoners (including Chambail Singh) at Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore and recommended that Jail authorities to ensure adequate security for all Indian prisoners to avoid any such incident in the future," the Committee said in a Joint Statement after its sixth meeting.

It said the committee will review the arrangements during its next visit to Kot Lakhpat Jail.

The Committee also recommended that detailed report of the official inquiry conducted by relevant Pakistani authorities on the April 26 assault on Sarabjit Singh be shared with the members of the panel at the earliest.

The Committee noted that mortal remains of Chambail Singh, Indian prisoner at Kot Lakhpat Jail, were repatriated to India after a lapse of nearly two months of his death on January 15 and that the copy of the post mortem report has not yet been shared with the Indian side.

"It was recommended that post mortem report of Chambail Singh be shared with the Indian side without any further delay," the statement said.

The committee was also informed about the escape of an under-trial Indian fisherman from the Malir jail, Karachi on February 11 and detention of the crew of the two Indian wooden vessels along with its cargo, off Pasni, Pakistan on April 18-19 by Pakistan authorities and requested that Pakistan inform the Indian side at the earliest about the two incidents.

A total number of 535 Indian prisoners including 483 fishermen (including 11 juveniles) and 8 civil prisoners, believed to be Indian nationals at District Jail Malir, Karachi, 8 Prisoners, believed to be Indian nationals at Adiyala Jail, Rawalpindi and 36 Prisoners, believed to be Indian nationals at Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore were presented before the Committee.

The panel comprised Justice (Retd) AS Gill and Justice (Retd) MA Khan from the Indian side, and Justice (Retd) Abdul Qadir Chaudhry, Justice (Retd) Nasir Aslam Zahid and Justice (Retd) Mian Muhammad Ajmal from Pakistan side.

The members visited District Jail Malir, Karachi, Adiyala Jail, Rawalpindi and Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore, between April 26-May 1.

The Committee in its recommendations said the "Consular Access Agreement" of May 2008 signed between two governments should be implemented in letter and spirit and consular access must be provided within three months of the arrest and not after completion of the prisoners' prison term.

Consular access must be provided immediately to all those prisoners who have not been given such access so far and the process of nationality confirmation should start immediately after consular access is provided.

It was found that there were 459 fishermen and 10 such civil prisoners in the three jails for whom consular access was not provided.

"The Committee recommended providing consular access to all such prisoners and fishermen before May 17 and the Pakistani side agreed for the same," the statement said.

The Committee noted that several names of prisoners had been dropped from the successive lists of prisoners, believed to be Indian, which were shared by Pakistan side twice every year.

The Committee noted that the respective courts must be requested for expeditious trial of all "under trial" prisoners. Respective High Commissions should create a panel of good repute lawyers/firms to pursue the cases of their prisoners in the local courts to locate, identify and defend such prisoners at all stages of their cases, if the prisoner(s) so wishes.

Subject to confirmation, the next visit of the Committee to Indian jails will be arranged during the second half of September for at least 7-9 days to ensure that the team is able to see each case in detail.



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