Indian Ambassador to the UAE says almost 80 per cent of them were eligible for a relocation to Indian jails as per the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Agreement.
Only about 10 percent of Indian prisoners in the UAE wish to serve their remaining sentence period back home, the Indian envoy has said.
“We have received about 120 applications from prisoners expressing their interest to be transferred to Indian jails,” the Indian Ambassador to the UAE, TP Seetharam told on Wednesday.
This constitutes only about 10 percent of the total number of Indian prisoners in the UAE, while, as per the previous reports, almost 80 per cent of them were eligible for a relocation to Indian jails as per the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Agreement between India and the UAE.
The historic treaty signed in November 2011 allows convicted Indians in the UAE to serve out their remaining sentences in jails in their home country, provided they satisfy the clauses.
The UAE had signed a similar pact with Pakistan in February 2012. The agreement was expected to pave way for families of hundreds of Indian prisoners in the UAE to have a chance to visit the latter in their home states if they wished to benefit from it.
The Indian mission had initiated proceedings for implementing the agreement following the ratification of the treaty by the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, earlier last year. A survey was conducted among the 1000-odd Indian prisoners languishing in jails across the UAE. Speaking after a visit to the central prison in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, the new ambassador said the embassy had already forwarded the applications it received to the UAE authorities. “Now, we need to get the approval from the UAE authorities. After that we will take it up with the Ministry of Home Affairs in India, which will then contact the respective governments of states where the prisoners wish to be transferred.”
He said a state-wise breakup of prisoners was not immediately available. “We will look into that and the home ministry will follow it up with the state governments to know whether they are prepared to receive them (prisoners from the respective states) and by when.”
The choice to be transferred has to be made voluntarily by the prisoners. Community leaders and volunteers assisting the missions with jail visits had earlier said that the treaty had elicited mixed response from Indian prisoners.
They had said majority preferred to stay back in the UAE due to the better facilities here and because they had not revealed about their sentences to people back home. However, it is only now the exact number of prisoners interested in benefiting from the treaty has been revealed.
Acknowledging that many Indian prisons are crowded, Seetharam said the conditions in the Abu Dhabi prison he visited seemed reasonably good.
“I spent more than two hours over there and spoke to about 60 Indian prisoners. I did not receive any complaint about the conditions in the prison.”
However, some of the prisoners said they do not have any money to make calls to their families. Some need legal assistance in making appeals for clemency. We will be making some arrangements for these people.”
The prisoners transfer pact applies to those who have already been convicted and not to under-trials. The crime should be punishable in both the countries and they will have to serve the remaining sentence specified in the host country. The prisoner wishing to be transferred must have a minimum of six months of jail term left and there shouldn’t be any pending case against him or her.
Both the governments of the host and receiving countries have the rights to accept or reject the requests of the prisoners. The airfare for prisoners being sent to their country would be borne by the sending country as per the agreement.