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Rights Groups Say Saudi Arabia Trampling Rights Of Pakistanis

Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Lahore-based Justice Project Pakistan say the criminal justice system of Saudi Arabia is violating the right to due process and fair trials for Pakistani defendants.

"The glaring defects in the criminal justice system are especially acute for Pakistanis, who face substantial difficulties finding legal assistance, navigating Saudi court procedures, and getting consular services from Pakistani Embassy officials," the groups said in a 29-page report released on March 7.

The report -- called Caught In A Web: Treatment Of Pakistanis In The Saudi Criminal Justice System -- cites "rampant due process violations" in cases which involve Pakistani citizens.

It says such violations include long detention periods without legal charges or trial, lack of access to legal assistance, faulty translation services, and pressure on detainees to sign confessions.

Saudi Arabia hosts an estimated 12 million foreign citizens, more than one-third of the country's total population. HRW says there are about 1.6 million Pakistanis living in Saudi Arabia and most of them are migrant workers.

HRW says Saudi Arabia has executed 73 Pakistanis during the past four years, more than any other foreign nationality.

It says nearly all were executed on charges of heroin smuggling.

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