Norway: Better cooperation needed with Pakistan

Norway's ambassador to Pakistan is calling for more and closer cooperation between the two countries, both in criminal cases and ensuring citizens' legal rights.

Newspaper Aftenposten has recently written a series of articles about criminals who are exploiting a current lack of cooperation between Norwegian and Pakistani police.

In recent months alone, gang members have fled from Oslo to Pakistan, taxi drivers suspected of tax evasion in Oslo have built huge homes in Pakistan, and increasing amounts of Norwegian currency are being sent to Pakistan. Police in Oslo suspect money laundering.

There also have been cases where Norwegian citizens of Pakistani descent have been killed in Pakistan, and the issues of kidnapping and forced marriages arise frequently.

Much of the activity stems from long-term family ties between Pakistanis and relatives who immigrated to Norway. Pakistani police have claimed they will gladly cooperate more closely with their Norwegian counterparts, but only of it's reciprocated.

"The cooperation has to get better than it is today," says Janis Bjørn Kanavin, Norway's ambassador to Pakistan.

"We can't allow that Pakistan be viewed as a 'free state' of sorts," Kanavin told Aftenposten. "If people think that, we have a problem."

The issue has been taken up at the highest levels, between Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf. But local police in Pakistan express frustration that their counterparts in countries like Norway don't take them seriously.

"We're always getting requests for help with investigations, but when we ask for help, we often get the cold shoulder," said one police official who asked to remain anonymous. "Australia is the only country where we feel we're taken seriously."

Another hindrance to better cooperation is Pakistan's widespread use of the death penalty, along with documented cases that suspects often are subjected to torture.

"The Pakistani courts don't want to relinquish their right to impose the death penalty," said Kanavin. "We need to find a practical solution for dealing with that."

Source: Aftenposten (English)

See also: Norway: Request for extradition of Norwegian-Pakistani, Oslo: Pakistani taxi drivers over-represented in tax fraud case

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