Agreement on crooks

New agreement on repatriation of criminals may open floodgates

The deal between the UK and Pakistan over foreign criminals and immigration offenders was made necessary by Brexit: Pakistan’s agreement on the issue was when the European Union covered the UK, which is no longer the case. The new agreement falls short of a mutual extradition treaty, and this agreement was not signed last year, because Pakistan saw it as allowing in criminals without crucial information sharing. Returning illegal migrants might seem a no-brainer, but the UK itself has a lengthy appeals process, and if someone takes removal as a ground of appeal, who would be responsible?

One example was of Sohail Ayaz, a convicted paedophile, deported by the UK to Pakistan, who continued his criminal activities in Pakistan, where he was arrested for assaulting 30 children, even though he had been convicted of a similar offence in 2008. The UK may also deport to Pakistan criminal convicts and undesirable aliens with no links to Pakistan. This raises the prospect of Pakistan being used as a dumping ground for all varieties of foreigners, who are burdening the British prison system. This has an eerie echo in the use of Pakistan as a dumping ground for solid waste, including plastics. Apart from the responsibility of states of dealing with those it convicts, there is the issue of the Pakistan prison system’s ability to handle any such influx. Pakistani jails are already overcrowded; any further pressure will be impossible to handle.

Is part of the problem the fact that the British Home Secretary involved in this deal is of Indian origin? India has also signed a deal with the UK, but it seems more of a migration partnership deal, allowing young Britons and Indians to live and work in each other’s countries. The deal with the UK must be re-examined carefully, and if it is seen to concede too much to the UK, it must be suitably amended.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].

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