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Updated December 18th, 2023 at 14:30 IST

Over 14,000 Pakistani nationals are serving prison sentences in foreign jails, know why

While situation is grim in Pakistan, reports are emerging that over 14,000 Pakistani citizens are languishing in prisons across the globe.

Over 14,000 Pakistanis are incarcerated in foreign jails.
Over 14,000 Pakistanis are incarcerated in foreign jails. | Image:Unsplash
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While things are grim in Pakistan, reports are emerging that over 14,000 Pakistani citizens are languishing in prison across the globe. The concerning data was shared by Justice Project Pakistan, an advocacy group that represents Pakistani prisoners at home and abroad. As per the data shared by the group, 58 per cent of those Pakistanis who are incarcerated abroad are imprisoned in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia on various charges.

Not only this, the group also stated that 183 Pakistani nationals were executed overseas between 2010 and 2013. “In alignment with International Migrant Workers’ Day, the launch of this interactive webpage symbolises a collective commitment to addressing the challenges faced by overseas Pakistani prisoners and advancing the cause of justice on a global scale,” JPP said in a press statement on Sunday.  “The launch of this webpage is a key step towards evidence-based policies that are likely to ensure that overseas Pakistani prisoners are aware of their consular protection rights and legal options,” said JPP Executive Director Sarah Belal. 

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The Pakistani prisoners in UAE and Saudi

According to the database, as of December 2023, at least 5,292 Pakistani nationals were imprisoned in the UAE. When it comes to the breakdown, 235 people were sent to jail over drug-related charges, 48 are imprisoned on theft charges, 46 are jailed for ‘immoral activities’, and 21 and 13 are respectively imprisoned for murder and rape. The figures saw a sharp surge in a very short time. In September last year, the number of prisoners in the UAE was about 1,600 which gradually rose to 5,292  by December this year. It is important to note that while Pakistan has a prisoner transfer agreement with the UAE, Pakistani nationals do not have proper legal rights. “These migrants find themselves in a foreign system without adequate access to impartial translators and legal counsel. They are at risk of facing the death penalty for a wide range of crimes,” the JPP said.

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When it comes to Saudi Arabia, the country’s jails are housing at least 3,100 Pakistani nationals. Out of them, 691 are on drug offences, whereas 180 are imprisoned for theft and robbery charges. 21 are detained over ‘traffic incidents’ whereas 58 are in jail for financial crimes. The country witnessed the execution of 4 Pakistanis in 2023. Greece is another country that has imprisoned 811 Pakistani nationals for various crimes. Overall the turbulent situation in the country has spilled over the chaos that is happening in Pakistan. 

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Published December 18th, 2023 at 14:23 IST

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