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Iran, Pak FMs urged to talk about amnesty for Pakistani prisoners in Iran

Islamabad, Pakistan human rights activist says Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi should talk about amnesty for Pakistani prisoners in Iran during visit of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif to Islamabad.

Sarah Belal executive director, Justice Project Pakistan, in her article published in daily Dawn said in 2014, the number of Pakistanis imprisoned in Iran was 203, adding that currently, there is no information about the exact number of Pakistanis on death row in Iran but the number is believed to be high.

She said that in August 2017, Iran's parliament approved a bill that amended its drug-trafficking laws to curtail the application of the death penalty to drug offenders. The amendment reduces the minimum possession of drugs, including their production or distribution, which results in a death sentence, she said.

The analyst said most importantly, the law applies retroactively to those on death row, promising to reduce death sentences of those convicted under the previous standard to imprisonment (about 30 years) and cash fines.

She noted that the amendment took effect on November 14, 2017.

The expert said following the Islamic revolution in 1979, anti-narcotics legislation became more and more severe, and, as a result, Iran has the highest incarceration rates for drug offences, and 70 percent of death sentences are handed down for drug-related offences.

Sarah Belal added that from November 2015 to July 2017, at least six Pakistanis were executed on drug charges in Iran.

Amnesty for Pakistani citizens depends largely on forceful diplomatic representations made by the Pakistani government of Pakistan to the Iranian government, said the human rights activist.

We have no idea if any of the Pakistanis were included among those whose sentences have been reviewed. It is the duty of the government to find out, she said.

Sarah Belal went on to say that as a regional ally of Pakistan, a prisoner transfer agreement with Iran must be negotiated.

Source: Islamic Republic News Agency - IRNA

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