AT News Report
KABUL: Afghan authorities announced Wednesday to accelerate prisoners swap process with the neighboring Iran, where thousands of Afghan refugees have been imprisoned by Iranian judiciary for committing different crimes.
The country’s judiciary authorities in a press briefing informed to speeds up prisoners exchange process to bring home all those Afghan nationals who have been serving their jail terms in Iranian prisons for years.
At least over 1,280 prisoners were returned to the country’s jails from Iran over the past five years, while in return only 28 Iranian nationals, who were convicted over committing crimes in Afghanistan, were handed over to Iranian officials, Aziz Ahmad Sarbaz, the head of delegation responsible for the prisoner swap process told newsmen in Kabul.
“In coordination with Iranian officials in first two quarters of the coming solar year 1398 (coming seven months) we will bring back 1,500-2,000 Afghan inmates from Iran” Sarbaz said, adding another 1,000 inmates refused to be transferred to Afghan jails because their families were living in Iran.
“It is a voluntary process, if an Afghan inmate doesn’t want to be transferred to our jails, then we don’t force him to accept the transfer” the official said, adding those so far identified and transferred to Afghanistan were serving their jail terms in different prisons, located in various regions of Iran.
He said it takes time for Afghan officials to complete the identity verification process of inmates for the transfer process, therefore, they are working hard to complete the process.
After being transferred to the country, the sentences of the prisoners are being amended in according to the Afghan judicial laws and if a person was awarded a longer period of prison in Iran his period of jail will be reduced as per the country’s criminal penal code, he said.
Those Afghans, whose cases were still in judicial proceedings in Iran, could not be part of the transfer and they could be listed once their cases are being decided by Iranian courts.
Jamshid Rasouli, the spokesman for Attorney General Office who was talking in the same event explained Afghan government is committed to defend rights of its citizens not only in Afghanistan but in foreign countries as well.
“Government is not only committed to protect rights and freedom of its nationals inside the country but also working hard to protect its citizens, who are living outside the country or in imprisoned in foreign countries for committing crimes” he said.
Afghanistan and Iran singed the prisoner swap treaty in 2007 but the practical implementation was started only in 2014.
Currently, only eight Iranians are in Afghan detention centers and they will be transferred to Iran once their cases are finalized by judicial organs.
Iran hosts millions of Afghans for the past four decades on its soil, millions of whom have already returned to Afghanistan in the past 17 years after Taliban regime was toppled by the United States in 2001.
In addition to Iran, Afghanistan has singed same treaties with several other counties including Russia, Tajikistan and UAE for prisoner swap.