Heirs of Pakistanis imprisoned in Saudi Arabia decry injustice, want PM Sharif to take ownership
Ahead of his visit to Saudi Arabia, the families of Pakistanis facing executions in the Arab land have invoked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to take notice of the plight of those vulnerable countrymen and raise the issue with the Saudi king.
Staging a demonstration in the federal capital on Wednesday, the protestors claimed that Pakistani migrants imprisoned in the Middle East are at the mercy of local courts without access to lawyers, impartial translators and consular assistance from the Pakistani diplomatic missions.
“These poor and hard-working Pakistanis, abandoned by their own country, face the harshest punishments due to their lack of understanding of the legal process, inability to communicate directly with the court and produce evidence from Pakistan in their defence,” they said.
“The complete lack of concern repeatedly displayed by the Pakistan government to the plight of these citizens is shocking. The duty to uphold the fundamental rights of its citizens does not end at the border. Every month we see numerous Pakistanis beheaded in Saudi Arabia. It is vital that the prime minister brings up this matter during his upcoming visit,” said Maryam Haq during the protest.
“How unfortunate is that these Pakistanis migrant workers earn $8 billion in remittances for Pakistan between July and December 2014 and $ 4.73 billion is received from Saudi Arabia alone – the highest ever sum received from any single country but government is showing apathy towards its own citizens.”
“Since October 2014, 13 Pakistanis have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia with little acknowledgement from the Pakistan government. Not only have their families not informed of their fate by the Pakistan government but even requests for the return of their dead bodies have not been entertained.”
In December 2014, Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) filed a petition in the Lahore High Court on behalf of the families of Pakistani migrant workers facing executions in the Middle East. The petition also includes families of Pakistanis whose loved ones were recently beheaded in Saudi Arabia. The petition demonstrates the role of the government of Pakistan in failing to protect the fundamental rights of its citizens imprisoned in the Middle East.
According to various rights organization reports, a number of Pakistanis, 59 last year, have been beheaded in recent months in Saudi Arabia on various charges especially drug trafficking.
In 2013, 78 people of various nationalities were also executed in the Gulf Arab state. United Nations independent experts have also called for moratorium on the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, which has faced harsh criticism from human rights group for carrying out executions.
UN Special Rapporteur Christof Heyns has also recently vehemently criticised that Saudi trials “are by all accounts grossly unfair” and defendants often not allowed a lawyer. He said confessions were obtained under torture.