Judges Committee asks India-Pak to exchange lists of prisoners

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New Delhi, Feb 27 (UNI) The India-Pakistan Joint Judicial Committee on Prisoners, which concluded its first meeting here today, has asked both countries to exchange by March 31 a consolidated list of prisoners in each other's jails.

The Committee which was formed in January 2007, gave a set of recommendations to provide for judicious release of prisoners in each other's jails.

The recommendations are : --Prisoners who have completed their sentences and whose national status has been verified, be released forthwith, --Special consideration, on compassionate and humanitarian basis, be accorded to women, juvenile and disabled prisoners for their repatriation, --As agreed between the two Governments, those fishermen in custody whose nationality status is confirmed, be released forthwith and in remaining cases Consular Access be provided by March 31, --All efforts be made to arrange for early release of all those prisoners, accused or convicted of minor offences, once their nationality status is confirmed, --Each country may immediately notify the other of the arrest of its nationals and provide Consular Access expeditiously.

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee today informed Parliament that at least 949 fishermen had been nabbed by Pakistani authorities during the past three years and the Government had taken up the issue of their release at the highest level.

At least 22 fishermen and four boats were held by Pakistani authorities during the past two months, he said in a written reply in Lok Sabha.

He said 372 Indian fishermen and 342 boats continued to be in the custody of Pakistani authorities.

The number of fishermen nabbed by Pakistan's Maritme Security Agency was 124 last year, 365 in 2006 and 460 in 2005. In addition, 251 boats were seized by them between 2003 and 2008.

A total of 1579 fishermen have been released by Pakistan including those taken into custody before 2005, the Minister said.

A Joint Statement issued today after the meeting of the Judges Committee said the Committee members would visit jails in Pakistan in April on dates agreed through diplomatic channels. This would be followed by a return visit to Indian jails.

The Committee was formed in January 2007 by the External Affairs Minister and his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri to recommend steps for humane treatment and expeditious release of prisoners of the respective countries in each other's jails.

The members of the Committee are Justice (Retd) Nagendra Rai, Justice (Retd) Amarjeet Choudhary, Justice (Retd) A S Gill and Justice (Retd) M A Khan from the Indian side and Justice (Retd) Abdul Qadeer Chaudhary, Justice (Retd) Fazal Karim, Justice (Retd) Nasir Aslam Zahid and Justice (Retd) Mian Muhammad Ajmal from the Pakistan side.

UNI RB MSJ AS1717

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