Aaghaz-e-Dosti publishes list of prisoners, fishermen jailed in India-Pakistan, suggests measures amid pandemic | India News
BATHINDA: Aaghaz-e-Dosti, a cross-border peace initiative, released the latest list of Indian and Pakistani civilian prisoners and fishermen who are housed in prisons on the other side of the border. The list is according to the data exchanged between India and Pakistan as of January 1, 2021 under the consular access agreement between the two governments that was signed in 2008.
Aaghaz-e-Dosti is the first initiative of its kind to have published such a detailed list of cross-border prisoners since 2014, that it has been uploaded to its blog.
According to data obtained by Ravi Nitesh, Founder-Aaghaz-e-Dosti, there are 49 Indian civilian prisoners housed in prisons in Pakistan. Among them, 32 people have already served their sentences, including 18 who have served their sentences more than five years ago but have not yet been able to return to their country of origin. The oldest case is that of a person who served a sentence in 2004 but was still unable to return despite having spent 17 years. There are two prisoners whose identity is unknown as they have hearing and speech problems and both completed their sentences. One prisoner is sentenced to death and six are underage prisoners who were detained in 2019 and 2020.
On the other hand, there are 263 Pakistani civilian prisoners housed in prisons in India. Among them, 67 have served their sentences, including one prisoner who served his sentence in 1998 and a few others in the years 2006, 2010 and 2014, but were unable to return to their country of origin. There are 54 prisoners who are in sentence, the status of 17 is unknown while 125 are in preventive detention. There are six prisoners whose details are unknown because they have speech and hearing problems.
There are a total of 77 Pakistani fishermen in Indian prisons captured mostly during 2018 to 2020 and the oldest cases are from 2013 and 2014, while 270 Indian fishermen are housed in Pakistani prisons.
“Those who have served their sentences but have not yet been able to return to their country of origin, due to obstacles such as confirmation of identity or the NOCs of the respective states. This must be considered a priority by both parts of the government and they must work to clarify all such cases and ensure the return of people to their country of origin without further delay. The right to return to the country of origin is guaranteed in article 12 (4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Furthermore, for people who are declared disabled by the respective states, there should be efforts to present such cases for identity confirmation and their release should be expedited, ”said Aaghaz-e-Dosti founder Ravi Nitesh, convenor of the chapter of India Devika Mittal and convener of the Pakistan chapter Raza Khan.
They said that Aaghaz-e-Dosti has suggested some measures that both parties should take in view of the spread of the pandemic where the protection of lives is important.
The list of prisoners and fishermen should be made public through the joint efforts of both governments. In doing so, there is the possibility that defenders and members of civil society may want to take up these cross-border prisoner cases to offer legal and humanitarian support.
In the case of civil prisoners, whose sentence has already been served, they must be released without delay.
The fishermen housed on both sides must be released immediately, as they are not criminals and there are no criminal charges against them. They were caught at sea while fishing and deserve to be released, but there should be a mechanism under which the detention of fishermen should be crafted to keep their jail time minimum.
Indian fishermen are jailed in Pakistan and their boats are also seized. According to the information received, there are around 1,110 fishing boats believed to be in captivity from Pakistan and these too should be released so that the fishermen can regain their resources to survive as a livelihood.
The Indo-Pak Joint Judicial Committee, which was formed in 2007, must be reactivated without delay. It has not met since 2013. The Pakistani government needs to organize the meeting, peace activists said.
Full list available at: https://aaghazedosti.wordpress.com/indo-pak-prisoners/