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India, Pak slammed for 'playing politics' over prisoners

Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jahangir slams both Islamabad and New Delhi for "playing politics" over the lives of prisoners.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 20, 2008 03:31 PM IST

Favouring clemency for Indian prisoner on death row Sarabjit Singh, noted Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jahangir on Thursday slammed both Islamabad and New Delhi for "playing politics" over the lives of prisoners.

"India and Pakistan should not play politics with the prisoners' lives. Their lives should be spared," Jahangir said on the sidelines of a conference in New Delhi.

"I appeal that Sarabjit's life be spared. He should be sent back to his own country even if it is after serving a life term," said Jahangir, who is also chairperson of Pakistan National Human Rights Commission.

She also urged the governments of both countries to provide counsellor access to the prisoners on both sides and humane treatment to them.

Jahangir was speaking to reporters in New Delhi after concluding her 18-day visit to India as United Nations' Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

She also demanded that moratorium be given to all prisoners who are on death row in Pakistan.

"Given the Pakistan Human Rights Commission's concern on the functioning of the legal system and the serious lack of due process for each arrested person, all 7500 people facing death sentence in the country should be given moratorium," she said.

Pointing out the need to follow proper legal procedures while dealing with arrested people, Jahangir said that gestures such as release of prisoners should be reciprocated by both sides.

"There should be proper and impartial investigation before pronouncing sentences to the arrested people," Jahangir said, adding, "we are neighbours, we must look after each other's people including the prisoners."

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