Bringing Them Home, Repatriation of Indian Nationals from Foreign Prisons, A Barrier Analysis
This report has been prepared by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative in 2017, under its Prison Reforms Programme. Hundreds of thousands of Indian nationals are known to travel abroad irregularly every year and many thousands more by due process. Some of them come into conflict with law because of offences committed due to personal circumstances, ignorance of the law in the foreign country or lack of authentic travel documents. Several are compelled to languish behind bars because of their poverty, inadequate consular access and legal assistance, lengthy application processing time of Government of India, and insufficient information about rights and procedures to complete their sentence in the prisons of their home country. Under the Repatriation of Prisoners Act, 2003 and the transfer arrangements entered both bilaterally with 30 countries and multi-laterally, the Government of India is obliged to ensure the rehabilitation of sentenced prisoners by letting them serve part of their sentence in their home countries closer to their families. Bringing them Home identifies the policy and practical factors hindering efficiencies in the transfer process at more than thirty checkpoints encompassing the stages of application screening, verification of nationality, sentence adaptability, issuing of travel documents, and various permissions and clearances to be obtained for the final movement of the prisoner. It presents the bottlenecks experienced by key stakeholders like the Indian Missions, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Law, the State Home Departments and Police and Prison Departments in executing their duties.