Locked Up Abroad

Locked Up AbroadLocked Up Abroad

Nearly 1800 to 2000 Iranians are detained in foreign prisons. “The figure is based on information gathered from the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) and our embassies abroad,” said Commander Masuod Rezvani, Iran’s Interpol chief.

Most of the convicts are imprisoned on charges of drug-related offences, he was quoted as saying by Sedayeeghtesad News Agency, on the sidelines of the fourth Interpol meeting with regional heads and liaison officers in Tehran.

Stating that many of the prisoners are not drug traffickers, he said they were not even aware of the presence of illegal drugs in packages they were carrying for acquaintances and others while travelling abroad.

Iranian passengers have often been “exploited” by drug trafficking gangs to carry packages in which illegal drugs are hidden, especially to the popular tourist destinations in South East Asia.

Iran’s Embassy in Malaysia has taken up the issue by asking Iranians not to entertain any request to carry parcels on other people’s behalf. According to the embassy, there are 221 Iranians languishing in 12 Malaysian prisons including 31 women, and six women and 80 men have been sentenced to death.

Rezvani, elaborating on the measures taken to free the detainees said, “In the past seven years, we have boosted cooperation with police in South East Asian countries, including Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia and identified and dismantled several drug cartels smuggling illicit drugs from South East to South West Asian countries.

“By taking stern action, we have prevented many people from becoming victims of deception.”

He also pointed to an agreement on prisoner exchange to be signed between Malaysia, Iran and other nations before the yearend (March 20, 2016), by which the issue of dentention of several Iranians in Malaysian prisons, who are innocent, will be addressed.”

Besides Malaysia, Iranians detained in other nations include Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Indonesia, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Kuwait, Qatar, Japan, Thailand and China.

 Some of the countries have strict laws on illegal drugs. Under Malaysian law, the death penalty is mandatory for any person caught with 5 grams of illegal drugs, as it constitutes drug trafficking in the country.