Treaties to aid jailed Filipinos in Saudi Arabia awaiting approval | Global News
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Treaties to aid jailed Filipinos in Saudi Arabia awaiting approval

/ 11:14 AM December 25, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Three treaties between the Philippines and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) that will extend assistance to Filipinos jailed in the Middle East country are expected to be signed early next year.

Department of Justice spokesperson and undersecretary Markk Perete said the treaties—Transfer of Sentenced Persons Agreement (TSPA), Extradition Treaty, and the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters—have already been concluded.

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“Both parties would now submit the draft to their respective principals for signing so we hope sometime early next year, the 3 treaties would be signed by the respective secretaries or minister of justice or head of state,” Perete told reporters.

Who could benefit from them?

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Perete said Filipino officials prioritized the TSPA during meetings with Saudi officials regarding the treaties.

He said there are currently 91 Filipinos detained in Saudi Arabia while 1,002 others are facing investigation for criminal cases.

Of the 91 Filipinos detained, one is serving a sentence of imprisonment of 11 to 20 years; six are serving a sentence of five to ten years; and 84 are serving a sentence of less than five years.

Further, Perete said that among the cases they are facing are unpaid loans, theft, robbery, rape, sexual abuse, and drug-related crimes.

If the TSPA is approved, the prisoners would be allowed to be repatriated back to the Philippines and serve their remaining sentence here instead, Perete explained.

Perete said one of the conditions for qualification under the TSPA is that the unserved sentence should not be less than 6 months.

“An agreement on TSPA is a humanitarian law-based treaty. The assumption is it is better for the rehabilitation of a prisoner to serve the sentence in his country of origin because the support institutions [like] families, relatives are in the country of origin,” Perete  explained.

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“Of course there is always a requirement consent of the prisoner as well as the states, both the receiving and sending states are obtained,” he added.

The TSPA, however, does not apply to those convicted of crimes against the state.

“Generally, cases of murder are not excluded [in the treaty] unless they pertain for example, a case involving a member of the royal family of KSA. It somehow pertains to political nature,” Perete said.

Where it started

Perete said Saudi officials requested three years ago for a treaty between their country and the Philippines to be drafted.

Asked for a possible reason why Saudi Arabia wanted to transfer jailed Filipinos back to the Philippines, Perete replied: From what I understand, the Philippines is the country of destination for tourists from the Kingdom. So they have the most number of tourists here in the Philippines.”

“Based on records of the Department of Foreign Affairs also, the nationals of Saudi ang pinakamarami na tourist arrivals from the Middle East,” he added.

Treaties with other countries

Perete said the Philippines currently has extradition treaties with several countries including Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, the United States, the United Kingdom, and India, among others.

The country also has treaty on mutual legal assistance in place with Australia, China, Hong Kong, Spain, Switzerland, Korea, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

GSG

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