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QUESTION NO.3435 INDIANS JAILED IN GULF COUNTRIES

March 25, 2021

RAJYA SABHA
UNSTARRED QUESTION NO.3435
TO BE ANSWERED ON 25.03.2021.

INDIANS JAILED IN GULF COUNTRIES

3435. SHRI SYED ZAFAR ISLAM:

Will the Minister of External Affairs be pleased to state:

(a) whether Government is aware that a large number of Indians are either trapped or lodged in jails in the Gulf countries;

(b) if so, the details thereof, State-wise, including Uttar Pradesh;

(c) the details of action being taken by Government to get them released and deported to India;

(d) whether the Indian Embassy concerned has charged any fee for extending facilities to such persons; and

(e) if so, the reasons therefor and the steps taken to give services and facilities to such persons, who are mostly poor, free of cost?

ANSWER
THE MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
(SHRI V. MURALEEDHARAN)

(a) & (b) As per information available with the Ministry, the number of Indian prisoners, including undertrials, in jails of Gulf countries is as follows: Bahrain (178), Kuwait (460), Oman (49), Qatar (439), Saudi Arabia (1570), United Arab Emirates (1292), Iraq (0). However, state-wise data is not available with Ministry as due to strong privacy laws prevailing in many countries, the local authorities do not share information on prisoners unless the person concerned consents to the disclosure of such information. Even countries which share information do not generally provide detailed information about the people of foreign countries imprisoned.

(c) to (e) The Government attaches the highest priority to the safety, security and well-being of Indians in foreign countries, including those in the foreign jails. Indian Missions / Posts abroad remain vigilant and closely monitor the incidents of Indian nationals being put in jail in foreign countries for violation of local laws or alleged violation of local laws. Apart from extending them all possible consular assistance, Indian Missions and Posts also assist in providing legal aid wherever needed. Missions and Posts also maintain a local panel of lawyers where Indian community is in sizeable numbers.

The issue of repatriation of Indian nationals in foreign prisons is regularly pursued by Indian Missions and Posts abroad with the local authorities concerned. The Government also follows up this issue during consular and other consultations with other countries, including in the context of bilateral agreements for Transfer of Sentenced Persons [TSP] wherever applicable. Inter-Ministerial meetings on this issue are also convened, as necessary, between Ministries of External Affairs and Home Affairs. In addition, the Government, through its Missions/Posts abroad and during high level visits, also takes up and pursues grant of amnesty or commutation of sentences of Indian prisoners in foreign countries.

No fee is charged from any Indian prisoner for extending facilities by the Indian Embassy concerned. The Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) is set up in Indian Missions & Posts abroad for assisting overseas Indian nationals in distress situations on a means tested basis in deserving cases. The support extended under ICWF includes financial assistance to Indian prisoners for legal aid as well as travel documents / air tickets.

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