RIYADH – Over 36 prisons across the Kingdom have been plagued with cases of overcrowding, poor hygiene, malnutrition, and prolonged detention due to the poor follow-up and slow paperwork of government offices, according to a National Human Rights Society (NHRS) statement Thursday.
Inmates should also be able to contact their families whenever they want, said Mifleh Al-Qahtani, chairman of NHRS.
Saudi human rights activists frequently visit prisons to check on their conditions, and calls have been made for their improvement.
The education of inmates, however, has received the attention of the Prisons Authority in the Kingdom which has set up technical training for inmates and is working to make small business loans available to prisoners so that after their release, they can start a new life.
The Prisons Authority in the Eastern Province has been negotiating deals with both the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC)and the Credit and Savings Bank on educating and financially supporting inmates to start their own businesses.
There is a plan to increase the capacity of the technical education programs inside prisons within the next three months by 120 percent, said Ahmad Khalifah, director of technical schools at the TVTC. “At least 3,000 inmates have benefited from our technical programs,” he said.
When inmates successfully finish their technical training, they will receive small business loans of between SR50,000 to SR200,000 as agreed with the Credit and Savings Bank, he said. There are short training sessions for inmates who do not want to go through a full study program but want the loan, he added.
The NHRS has been an active communications link and investigator between the public and government offices, yet some offices are slow to respond, Al-Qahtani said.
The society studies all responses from government offices carefully, he said, asking them to elaborate when they deny an allegation so as to prevent a problem from spiraling out of control. The society is planning to launch a campaign against child abuse that will urge the creation of a clear-cut law to curb this problem in the Kingdom, he added. – Okaz/SG