The Justice Project Pakistan has notified the Lahore High Court that only 89 Pakistani prisoners have returned from Saudi Arabia so far after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s vow to release 2,107 prisoners. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had earlier stated 579 of them had come back home.
Barrister Sarah Belal told Justice Ayesha Malik that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman arrived in Pakistan on an official visit in February 2019 where he vowed to release 2,107 Pakistanis imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. However, only 89 or less than 5 per cent of those entitled to be freed under the royal pardon, have returned home since then.
In response, the government submitted details of 579 Pakistanis who had returned from jails in Saudi Arabia. The list, however, reveals that most of the prisoners had been freed preceding the announcement.
The petition filed by JPP seeks to enforce the fundamental rights of Pakistani citizens facing death sentence across the Gulf nations. According to documents submitted earlier by the Ministry of Interior in the Lahore High Court, nearly 11,000 Pakistanis are languishing in foreign jails.
These impoverished Pakistanis face the most strident punishments due to their lack of understanding of and assistance with the legal process, incapability to interact directly with the court, and failure to produce evidence from Pakistan in their defence.