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Repatriate Indian fishermen after sentence is over: Pakistan's Supreme Court

By Bobby Ramakant, CNS

August 27, 2010
The author is a CNS Policy Adviser and is the Director of CNS Stop-TB Initiative. He is a World Health Organization (WHO) Director-Generalís WNTD Awardee (2008) and writes extensively on health and development issues for Citizen News Service (CNS). Website: www.citizen-news.org, email: bobby@citizen-news.org

Supreme Court of Pakistan informed 454 Indian fishermen (out of total 582 currently detained) have completed their sentences in Pakistani jails, should be repatriated. Pakistani ministry of Foreign Affairs told Supreme Court that four hundred and fifty four (454) Indian fishermen (out of total 582 currently detained) have completed their sentences and that they have been verified to be Indian nationals by the Indian high commission in Pakistan. Foreign Affairs has recommended to the Interior ministry to expedite their repatriation to India.

Supreme Court of Pakistan bench, comprising Chief justice Iftikhar Mummad Choudhry and Mr justice Khalil-u-Rahman Ramday was hearing a constitutional petition filed by Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) and Indian Fishermen detained in various jails in Sindh (Pakistan) against unlawful detention of Indian fishermen. Senior advocate Syed Iqbal Hyder appeared on behalf of petitioners.

At the hearing the apex court gave one more chance to the Interior ministry to submit their explanation before the next hearing on 14 September 2010 immediately after the festival of 'Eid.'

On the last hearing on August 12, 2010 the Supreme Court had directed the ministry of Foreign Affairs, ministry of Interior Government of Pakistan and Government of Sindh (Pakistan) to submit their Para-wise comments to the petition and explain under what lawful authority the Indian fishermen in question were arrested, prosecuted, convicted and later detained for so many years.

At the hearing the ministry of Interior and the Government of Sindh (Pakistan) did not appear before the court. However the ministry of Foreign Affairs gave its detailed comments, agreeing the contentions of the petition.

Syed Iqbal Hyder presented to the supreme court the two orders passed by the Indian Supreme Court in similar cases, these orders were obtained with the help of Indian Human Rights activists. The Pakistani apex court has taken into consideration the orders of Indian Supreme Court which support the contention and the issues before the Pakistan Supreme court for the release of Indian fishermen.

Syed Iqbal hyder termed the comments filed by the ministry of foreign affairs and its recommendation for release of Indian fishermen as very encouraging and heartening. The foreign ministry has also produced a detailed account of the number of the prisoners released by the two countries in the recent past. It has also acknowledged recent release of Pakistani prisoners in pursuance of the orders of the honorable Supreme Court of the India.

A media advisory in this regard was issued by Shujauddin Qureshi, Senior Research Associate, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER). (CNS)

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Posted on: August 27, 2010 07:58 PM IST

 

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