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LHC gives govt two weeks to submit details of Pakistanis detained in Iran.

LAHORE -- The Lahore High Court admonished the Federal Government for asking for more time to respond to a petition seeking details of Pakistani citizens on Iran's death row, filed in May this year.

'There are so many Pakistanis languishing in Iran's jails, ' said Justice Shahid Waheed, while hearing the petition filed by Justice Project. 'Don't you care about them?' he asked, noting that nearly 5 months had lapsed since the petition was filed.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development were granted one last chance to submit their reply and list of Pakistanis on Iran's death row in two weeks. The LHC categorically stated that 'no further adjournment will be granted after this period. '

The petition requests the court to direct the Government of Pakistan to make immediate and forceful representations, as required by law, on behalf of Pakistani citizens on death row in Iran, both to secure reviews of their death sentence under the Amendment, and to ensure their extradition to Pakistan.

An Amendment passed by the Guardian Council of Islamic Republic of Iran on 25 October 2017, allows prisoners sentenced to death under the previous standards of possession to file reviews and have their sentences commuted to imprisonment up to 30 years and fine.

Iranian Supreme Court has said that the reviews are not automatic but have to be filed by the prisoners. Pakistanis in foreign jurisdictions are particularly vulnerable and therefore might not be able to file reviews themselves. Despite being informed of the Amendment and the urgent need to file reviews, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Pakistani Embassy in Tehran has not taken any concrete steps to facilitate Pakistani prisoners entitled to relief.

Earlier this month, the Federal Minister of Information Fawad Chaudhary in a press conference had stated that the matter of Pakistanis on Iran's death row was discussed in detail with Iran's Foreign Minister, Jawad Zarif during his recent two-day visit to Pakistan. Chaudhary stated, 'Our embassy in Tehran is in contact with the Prosecutor General of Iran' and that the government is 'hopeful' that Pakistani citizens on Iran's death row will be granted relief.

Sarah Belal, JPP Executive Director adds: 'The new government has expressed its resolve to aid overseas Pakistani prisoners especially those on death row in Iran - but if swift action does not follow through, they remain at risk of imminent execution. Once again, it is the Hon'ble Lahore High Court, that has come to their aid and is compelling the MoFA to do its constitutional duty to protect the lives of Pakistanis abroad. The Foreign Office must ask for the names of all of its detained citizens and it must press upon Iran to specify which prisoners qualify for amnesty and ensure that their reviews are filed, and sentences commuted. '

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Publication:Balochistan Times (Baluchistan Province, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Sep 12, 2018
Words:541
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