Aafia Siddiqui’s repatriation: Govt seeks time to comply with court order
February 3, 2016   By:    Aafia Siddiqui   Comments are off   //   1724 Views
KARACHI:  The Sindh High Court (SHC) has given time to the deputy attorney general (DAG) to file a response from the foreign and interior ministries on efforts to facilitate repatriation of convicted Pakistani neuroscientist Dr Aafia Siddiqui from the US.

A division bench, headed by Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, on Tuesday was hearing an application filed by Fauzia Siddiqui, who is fighting for extradition of her sister, for contempt proceedings against the federal authorities.

On the last hearing, a report was filed in the court stating that the European Union (EU) had not accepted the Pakistani government’s request for accession to the Council of Europe Convention on Transfer of Sentenced Persons treaty to facilitate repatriation of the convict.

Siddiqui had alleged that the high court had ordered the foreign ministry to make efforts for bringing back her sister, who was given 86 years in jail for shooting at US agents at Bagram Airbase, Afghanistan, in 2010.

At the last hearing, a copy of the letter addressed by Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry to the interior ministry in February 2015 was produced in court.

It was informed that on a summary moved by the interior ministry, the cabinet had granted its approval on August 23, 2013 for submitting a request for accession to the EU’s Convention of Transfer of Sentenced Persons “to facilitate the transfer of Dr Aafia Siddiqui from the US to Pakistan to complete her prison term.”

Subsequently, the foreign ministry approached the EU through the Pakistani embassy in Brussels for its concurrence to the proposal. “However, the EU did not accept our proposal for accession without assigning any reason,” the court was informed.

The foreign secretary said now the second option was under consideration. “We are of the view that the second option, which is available in accession to the Organisation of American States Inter-American Convention of Serving of Criminal Sentences Abroad 1993, may be considered in deference to the request by the family of Dr Aafia Siddiqui,” he added.

During Tuesday’s proceedings, the judges inquired from the DAG about the progress made in efforts to bring back the petitioner’s sister, as ordered earlier.

The DAG was unable to comment and requested for time to seek instructions from the relevant authorities. Allowing the request, the bench adjourned the hearing.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 3rd,  2016.

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