There has been an increase in the number of prisoners abroad since 2014, especially in Gulf countries, according to a Justice Project Pakistan report.
The report titled ‘Migration, Remittances, and Imprisonment: Migrant workers and the plight of Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia’s Prisons’ was published on Monday.
In 2015, at least 8,597 Pakistanis were imprisoned in 63 countries, revealed the official stats by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The number soared to 10,896 prisoners in 28 countries in 2020, according to a news report by Daily Pakistan sourced in the report.
The highest number of prisoners is in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, the report said.
In Saudi Arabia, the number of Pakistani prisoners has gone up from 1,509 in 2015 to 3,248 in 2020.
There has been an increase in the number of Pakistanis on death row abroad and the number of executions carried out globally since 2014.
“Pakistan accounts for a whopping 57% of the reported Saudi death row population and 35% of the foreign nationals executed by the Kingdom in 2019,” the report added. Other countries, however, have managed to reduce the numbers of their prisoners abroad.
There were 15,149 Bangladeshi nationals imprisoned abroad in 2017, but the number decreased to 8,848 in 2019, says the report while quoting Bangladeshi newspapers.
It notes that Pakistan does not have a uniform consular protection policy, which means that the prisoners are left at the mercy of local courts “which are notorious for failing to meet international standards for a fair trial”.
Lack of consular assistance results in higher sentences for the prisoners. The prisoners have to spend indefinite periods in detention due to the absence of prisoner transfer agreements
According to the report, 56.53% of overseas Pakistani prisoners can be brought back if the government negotiates prisoner transfer agreement with the host countries.
The report has made the following recommendations: