LAHORE - The Lahore High Court Thursday directed the ministries of foreign affairs, interior and overseas Pakistanis & human resource development to submit replies to the Pakistani citizens on death row in Iranian jails.

Justice Shahid Waheed passed the order on a petition moved by Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) seeking directives for the government to provide details of Pakistani citizens detained in Iranian jails and the steps taken to convince the neighbouring country to review sentences under recently amended Iranian drug laws.

Barrister Sarah Belal of Justice Project Pakistan, the first woman lawyer fighting for the rights of Pakistani citizens detailed in foreign jails, appeared before the court and contended that Iranian Supreme Court in January 2018 had made it clear that those awarded death sentence for drug crimes would have their sentences commuted only if they apply for such a commutation.

The counsel said the prisoners sentenced to death under previous standard had been unable to file reviews and they faced execution but now they could approach the authorities concerned for relaxation in their sentence.  The ministry of foreign affairs and Pakistan embassy in Tehran had not taken any step to help the Pakistani prisoners.

She prayed to the court to direct the government to make strong representations before the Iranian authorities for Pakistani citizens on death row in Iran for review of their death sentence under the new amendment and to ensure their extradition to Pakistan.

After hearing the arguments of the petitioner’s counsel, Justice Waheed sought replies from the ministries concerned and put off further hearing until September 11.A