M A I N   N E W S

India-Pak panel okays repatriation of prisoners
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 23
The India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners has recommended to the two governments to facilitate the nationality verification process and repatriate to their respective countries at the earliest all those prisoners who have completed their sentences and whose travel documents were available.

The high-powered panel also suggested that a humane approach should be adopted in dealing with the cases of fishermen, women and juvenile prisoners, prisoners terminally ill or suffering from serious illness or physical disability and mentally disabled persons.

Members of the commission this week visited jails in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore. The members of the committee are retired Justices Nagedra Rai, Amerjeet Chaudhary, A.S. Gill and M.A. Khan from the Indian side and retired Justices Abdul Qadeer Chaudhary, Fazal Karin, Nasir Aslam Zahid and Mian Muhammed Ajmal from the Pakistan side.

Pakistan shared its list of Indian fishermen and civilian prisoners with the Indian delegation and also provided consular access to some of the Indian prisoners on the spot.

The commission recommended to reconcile the figures of prisoners and fishermen at the earliest and to allow consular access to the rest of the fishermen and prisoners in the second week of May.

The Pakistan delegation will now visit Indian jails in the second half of June this year and the dates would be finalised by both sides through diplomatic channels.

A joint press statement said the committee appreciated the release of 89 fishermen by the Pakistani authorities and one Pakistani fisherman and 44 civil prisoners by the Indian authorities.

The committee also appreciated the recommendations of the Home/Interior Secretary level talks held last month in New Delhi to task the Coast Guard of India and Pakistan Maritime Security Agency to work on setting up a mechanism for release of inadvertent crossers (fishermen) and their boats on the same lines as the inadvertent crossers on land. The group will submit its report to the Home/Interior Secretaries before the next round of talks.

The judicial panel also recommended that all the prisoners should be provided legal aid at all stages of their cases by the respective government. 





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