(Source: A representation submitted by Jabir P.K., to the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India on Nov.28, 1997)
A bilateral extradition treaty is on the anvil with the Government of India and United Arab Emirates (UAE). At this juncture, this article is relevant and throws some light on its consequent repercussions. It is common knowledge that, hardcore terrorists and narcotic dons after committing grave offences take asylum in these states. Apparently, a treaty of this sort is necessitated to barter the fugitive criminals for proper punishment. But it is regretfully commented that, there is more to it than that meets the eye.
Given the history of extradition and its use with criminal justice system of countries antithetical to ours, it is inevitable that we exercise some caution. It would be unfortunate if the Government is to ignore the plight of its citizens in these countries, while entering into a treaty of this kind. Innocent citizens have been like flies to wanton boys for these oil gods who flog them for their sport rather than faith and therefore the Government should not fail to foresee the consequences of signing such a treaty.
Once a person is extradited, the country receiving the fugitive or the criminal is not bound under law to return the accused. Extradition is not allowed for trifling cases. Even though, it permits any crime carrying the sentence of 12 months or more in either country. Keeping these in view that we should not have any standing extradition arrangements with countries with deplorable Human Rights records and whose criminal justice systems lack confidence.
Many articles and editorials have appeared in various newspapers depicting the land of Arabia as a desert of injustice. Instances of antique terror unleashed on Indians in the Gulf are innumerable. But, unfortunately, many in the media hesitate to publish these tragic episodes due to varied personal considerations. Likewise, many official news stories have been suppressed and what finally scoops up in the front pages of newspapers are unofficial personal experience of those who have lived through it.
Awful treatment meted out to Indians under- trial in the Gulf countries, for no fault of theirs, are increasing over the day. The law and order in relation to the export of labour has always been ignored.
Hundreds of Philipino-girls who sought job as housemaids have disappeared in these Gulf states. To make matters worse, their Arab sponsors simply close the chapter by merely publishing in news papers about their disappearance as absconded. When the stories of these unfortunate girls, who were fragmented to small quantities of bones at remote desert land, appeared in the Press of Philippines, this small country stood up against UAE in preventing the execution of a Filipino maid, who was sentenced to death for having killed her Arab sponsor. The stratagem worked dramatically and indeed effected her release.
Abu Dhabi central jail is overcrowded with over three thousand prisoners. In the scorching heat of the desert, within concrete cages, prisoners are made to live in inhuman conditions without the basic necessities of life. These prisoners sustain their life with fermented camel meat and wormy food grains. The heartening fact is that many innocents are made to languish here under the banner of criminals, which cast a stigma on them for life. Though these accomplishments seems incredible, a message rings loud and clear for those who are conscious of any violation of Human Rights. For those who don’t, these sentiments would be like pearls of wisdom, quite un oblivious of good things.
With a particular pattern of administration in these countries, it is extremely difficult to escape the clutches of policemen who act in collusion with bigwigs and the resultant prison life. Many fall prey to these, particularly Indians and those belonging to the weaker sections of southern states, who have sacrificed their entire youth and health for the prosperity of that nation and in equal measure helped in earning foreign exchange for this country.
Abu Dhabi the capital city of UAE is abundant with Pubs and Bars. An Indian who consumed alcohol will have to face bitter punishment while westerners committing the same never face any charges. An Indian will be dragged to laboratory with shackled and manacled and cuffed both hands and legs, to test the alcohol content in his blood. What follows subsequently is a prolonged trial and imprisonment, and finally ends in deportation. If in the circumstance the accused is a Muslim, the punishment will be reduced to eighty flogging instead of deportation.
In the UAE and Saudi Arabia many Indians have been executed. Public beheading and shooting are common and therefore ignored by the media. The bodies of those executed are never returned to the relatives even for religious services for the dead. Invariably they hardly informed in time to the Indian consulate, when an Indian national is executed. The consulate personals, who are responsible remain indifferent, without questioning the propriety and attitude of these officers.
Consulates of western countries proclaim their glories in Gulf States within the customary rules of diplomatic agents. They observe and negotiate attentively every occurrence which affect the interest of their home states. Moreover they protect the person, property and interests of their home states. Seldom are their citizens charged under penal provisions even if they committed grave offences in the Gulf.
Able and sincere workforce are lavishly available in India unlike any other country in the world. Naturally they have been more attracted to the construction activities that taking place in Gulf countries. Advertisements in Indian dailies are prime example of it. But this is only a temporary phenomenon. These Indian labourers will be mercilessly thrown out after their requirement. In October 1996, a law was passed by Saudi Arabia to the effect that, no employment would be given to non-Muslims. Later, when many projects in that country were stalled due to lack of certain workforce, they had to do away with this piece of xenophobia.
It is explicitly clear from the attitude and actions of Gulf states, that they consider Indians in a slavish manner. Indians employed here belong to varied sections of the society, many of them work-men, quiet often skilled work-men, who have given the Diwans (Rulers) and the opulent, good quality cheap labour to build their multi-storied mansions. Every segment in the society of that country has benefited and utilized in profusion the expertise and sincere services of Indians.
It should be noted that they work under compelling conditions of life in the hot desert land. Despite these goodwill intentions of Indians the basic freedom cherishable to humanity are deprived to them.
In short, the truth can be summed up as Extradition is possible only between ‘commendable’ states, that is, towards countries in which the minimum standards of the state of law are respected. If ignored it would be like the Aspidistra, a plant which requires no attention till it breaks its pot, and when done, it needs to be put in a fresh compost. The innocuous extradition treaty would crave attention only when it breaks human sensibilities.
A government which hesitate to observe even the basics of natural justice, a police department together with the public prosecution promoting extortion and an upper class society which ridiculously disobeys the Court verdicts, represent a totally uncivilized legal system, which prevails in United Arab Emirates.
The bitter experience of the writer’s life and his first-hand knowledge of the realities are ample illustrations that go into the very heart of the matter.
The writer was a General contractor in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. When a court favourably proceeded in his civil suit of a building contract, a local who was the opposite, in collusion with police-officials trespassed into his office premises and threatened him to withdraw the civil suit. The writer refused to yield such a demand. Consequently, his entire office was ransacked and valuables looted.
Thereafter, the writer and his brother were framed under false criminal charges and taken to the central prison. He and his establishments suffered huge losses for not allowing him to have meetings with any person or communicate with the outside world. His case was taken up in trial only after five months.
The Court listened to the evidences of eye-witnesses saying as to a policeman was holding an iron bar of one meter length in his hand, threatening anyone who came near the office premises of the accused and was shouting “Indian, Pakistani and Bengalis all are thieves and procurers ”
The judges were much moved by the massive evidences before them which established beyond doubt the orchestration of the police and the dishonest deals of the local man. The Court acquitted the writer and his brother and ordered an investigation into the crime committed by the local man and the police.
To avoid embarrassment the prosecution filed an appeal, and on the same day the writer and his brother were granted bail. However, despite the acquittal and the bail they were not released from prison. Later, a full bench appellate court affirmed the decision of the trial court. It further reiterated the condemnation of the prosecutor. An excerpt from the appellate judgment as follows :-
” Verily the Islamic law and the entire positive laws have honoured man and protected his freedom, his honour, his property and his soul. Hence, if man was killed while protecting these, he is considered to be a martyr. And limitation of his freedom without any right is an unforgiving crime and the same is mentioned in the provisions of articles 2 and 3 of the penal procedure code. And it is proved in this case that the policemen along-with the local went to arrest the accused, without any right and curtailed his freedom”.
The good number of witnesses from different nationalities who did not care the threat of local police and public prosecution dared to explain the facts, were unusual occurrences in their country and this indeed helped the court. But since the opportunity to protest is not permitted in their judicial system, all these efforts remained in vain. This writer and his brother continued languishing in jail and after a period of one year they were deported back to India.
There is no room for doubt that, this was a blatant violation of Human Rights. It is a country where its own judicial pronouncement is treated as worthless sand.
Mr. Justice V.S. Malimath, member of the NHRC said recently, “Human Rights are inherent, universal and inalienable and a human being is born with these rights, each country needs to work on itself more and bother about the rest a little. He added that, “The source of Human Right violation is the vicious human mind and the behavior and the thinking and value system of the people needs to be changed”.
It appears that, these ideas were not part of the so-called experts in foreign affairs department. However, it should be remembered, the observation of the Courts that the man does not survive solely on for bread. It is when the culture accomplishment, blissful knowledge and artistic values are there to support his life to attains completeness.