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‘Repatriation of prisoners’ pact with four more countries in the offing

India will sign ‘repatriation of prisoners’ agreement with four more countries including Canada, Brazil, Qatar and Russia. The pact allows foreign nationals imprisoned in Indian jails and vice-versa to serve the remainder of their sentences in their native countries.

India has so far singed the agreement with 18 countries under the Repatriation of Prisoners Act, 2003. United Kingdom (UK) was the first country with which India had signed this pact in 2004.

‘Negotiations have already been concluded with the governments of Canada, Brazil, Qatar and Russia to sign the agreement. Modalities are being worked out to formally ink the pact with each of them at mutually convenient dates’, said a senior home ministry official.

Italy was the last country with which India had inked this agreement which will, incidentally, have direct bearing on the case of two Italian marines who are accused of killing two Indian fishermen off Kerala cost. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has been probing the incident that took place in February last year.

Though the negotiation to sign this pact with Italy was concluded much before the Italian marines - Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone - had allegedly killed the Indian fishermen, the agreement had come into force only late last year. If the marines are convicted for their crime here, they may opt for serving their sentence in Italian jail.

The 10-year-old Act has, however, not seen repatriation in big numbers. Only 19 prisoners have, so far, availed the facility of serving their sentence in their native countries under this agreement.

The maximum 12 Indian prisoners had come from Mauritius to serve their jail term in India. While six British prisoners from India had been repatriated to UK, one prisoner had come to India from that country.

The other countries with which India has this agreement at present include: Bulgaria, Cambodia, Egypt, France, Bangladesh, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Iran, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Maldives, Israel, Thailand, Turkey and Bosnia & Herzegovina.
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