[The Nation 27 April, 2019]

ISLAMABAD – A UK delegation will soon be visiting Pakistan as part of the efforts to restart the procedure for transfer of prisoners under the amended agreement which came into effect on December 27, 2018, it has been learnt reliably. A delegation from Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service would visit Islamabad soon to discuss the procedure for restarting the transfer of prisoners between Pakistan and the UK in particular through identifying the first set of pathfinder cases.

Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service is the executive agency of the Ministry of Justice in charge of prisons and the probation service in England and Wales. According to the sources, there are many such cases pending with both the countries. It is to be mentioned here that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was requested to approach the UK authorities to repatriate a Pakistani national Muhammad Tariq Aziz to Pakistan in accordance with the orders of Islamabad High Court.

The Prisoner Transfer Agreement between the UK and Pakistan was agreed in 2007 and entered into force in 2008. However, it was suspended by Pakistan in 2015 after the fraudulent release of the convicts.

An Amending Protocol was signed on 27th December 2018 which restarts the Prisoner Transfer Agreement between the UK and Pakistan. The updated agreement was signed by the British High Commissioner Thomas Drew and Pakistan Interior Secretary Major (R) Azam Suleman Khan. The agreement will give prisoners the opportunity to serve their sentence closer to home. As well as restarting prisoner transfers, the Amending Protocol also updates the actual Prisoner Transfer Agreement by including strengthened assurances to ensure all transferred prisoners serve the appropriate sentence before being released.

According to the most recent available statistics, there were 312 Pakistani national offenders held by HM Prison Service in England and Wales. However, this is a frequently changing figure as convicts complete their terms and new ones are added from time to time.