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by Raziur Rahman

Nearly 600 foreign nationals including 14 women are in different jails in the country although they have completed their jail terms or have been acquitted of the charges against them.

Top jail officials said lack of initiative by the concerned foreign missions in Dhaka for repatriation of these foreigners has led to this situation. These detainees are called 'released prisoners'.

According to officials, of the 600 expatriate released prisoners, 510 including seven women are from Myanmar with most of them staying in jails in Chittagong, Cox's Bazar, Sylhet and Comilla.

20 of the detainees are in Dhaka Central Jail, six of them being from Myanmar.

Seventy-six released prisoners including seven women are from India and six from Sri Lanka.

Others are from Thailand, China, Pakistan, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria and Liberia.

As soon as an expatriate detainee is acquitted of the charge against him/her or his/her jail term is over, the home ministry is informed of this.

After getting permission from the ministry for repatriation of the released prisoner, jail authorities contact the respective foreign mission to take the person from jail. If the mission wants to do so, Jail authorities in presence of the Special Branch of Police hand over the person to the mission officials.

The mission concerned then sends the foreigner back to his country.

In reply to a question about the 600 prisoners, a top jail official seeking anonymity said, "Despite repeated requests from jail officials, the foreign missions concerned have been apparently reluctant to take them for repatriation to their respective countries."

He pointed out that as countries like Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria and Liberia do not have resident missions in Dhaka, it is difficult for jail officials to contact them repeatedly.

A number of the released prisoners have been in jail for more than two years. The government spends about Tk 4.86 lakh (about 8,600 US dollars) per month on food for the expatriate released prisoners, jail sources claimed.

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Photo : Abir Abdullah/ Drik