8,330 Indian prisoners in foreign countries; 1,611 in UAE, 308 in Pakistan

There are 8,330 Indians in prisons around the world, with 1,611 of them in UAE and 308 in Pakistan, stated the Ministry of External Affairs in the Rajya Sabha

Representative image (Source: IANS)
Representative image (Source: IANS)

Ashlin Mathew

There are 8,330 Indians in prisons around the world, with 1,611 of them in UAE and 308 in Pakistan, stated the Ministry of External Affairs in the Rajya Sabha. Majority of the prisoners are lodged in prisons in Gulf countries such as UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Oman.

In response to questions asked by CPI MP Binoy Viswam, Minister of State V Muraleedharan said, “As per the information available with the ministry, the number of Indian prisoners, including undertrials, in foreign prisons at present is 8,330. However, due to strong privacy laws prevailing in many countries, the local authorities do not share information on prisoners unless the person concerned consents to the disclosure of such information.”

“The issue of release and repatriation of Indian nationals in foreign prisons is regularly pursued by Indian Missions and Posts abroad with the local authorities concerned. Missions/Posts abroad also approach the law enforcement agencies to complete the investigation and judicial proceedings at the earliest possible,” said the ministry in the response to Viswam.

According to the data shared by the ministry, UAE has the highest number of Indians in their jail at 1,611, followed by Saudi Arabia with 1,461 Indians, Qatar with 696, Kuwait with 446, Bahrain with 277 and Oman with 139. In these Gulf countries, there are a total of 4,630 Indians lodged in prisons.

Among other Asian countries, Nepal has the highest number of Indians in their prisons with 1,222. This is followed by Malaysia with 341, Pakistan with 308 and 178 in China. Bangladesh has 60 and Sri Lanka has 20 Indian prisoners.

In the response, Muraleedharan underscored that India has signed Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons with 31 countries by virtue of which Indian prisoners lodged in foreign countries can be transferred to India to serve the remainder of their sentence and vice-versa. The 31 countries with which India has signed the agreements are Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Egypt, Estonia, France, Hong Kong, Iran, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kuwait, Maldives, Mauritius, Mongolia, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates (UAE), United Kingdom and Vietnam. No new agreements have been signed by India since 2018.

Though there are agreements with several of the Gulf countries, majority of the Indians are lodged in prisons in these countries.

India has also signed two multilateral conventions on transfer of sentenced persons, namely Inter-American Convention on Serving Criminal Sentences Abroad and Council of Europe Convention on Transfer of Sentenced Persons, by virtue of which sentenced persons of member states and other countries which have acceded to these conventions can seek transfer to their native countries to serve the remainder of their sentence.

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