JEDDAH – The much-criticized Ministry of Social Affairs is expected to deliver Saturday its investigative report on the recent riot at a women’s correctional facility in Makkah to the Emir of the region, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal.
The ministry report comes a few days after a preliminary investigation by the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution found that there was “chaos” at the facility.
The Bureau’s report found that members of the facility’s administration tried to silence inmates by transferring them to other facilities, preventing family visits, and holding inmates in solitary confinement.
The Bureau report recommended that the director of the facility be suspended immediately, and that all prisoner transfers should be stopped, until all investigations have been completed.
Now, the Social Affairs Ministry will deliver a second report on conditions at the institution. Some of the ministry’s officials have been accused of trying to cover-up poor living conditions at the facility.
Dr. Ali Al-Hinaki, Director General of Social Affairs in Makkah Region and chairman of the ministry’s investigation committee, said they had noted several problems at the facility.
Al-Hinaki said this includes the lack of space at the home, poor ventilation and lighting and legal seclusion for married women. Also, the renovation work at the home has been going on for two years and eight months without being completed. He said that some girls were staying at the facility longer than expected because their families did not want them.
Al-Hinaki denied media reports that he had criticized a report by the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) which found that there was widespread abuse of inmates, including lack of access to medical care, little or no access to families, unhygienic food, solitary confinement and beating by women prison guards.
The NSHR report was based on confessions by women guards and testimony by social workers and inmates.
He said that the only thing he had done was to make a comparison between the NSHR report and the reports from government agencies which had regularly conducted inspections at the facility and had found nothing wrong.
Al-Hinaki said he had never visited the facility in the past. He had only done so when the investigation was launched by the ministry.
Al-Hinaki also accused the female inmates of exaggerating the conditions at the facility. He again claimed, that allegations of the women being beaten and photographed, were untrue.
Speaking from his office in Jeddah, Al-Hinaki said the ministry was dealing with difficult women, who had been subjected to violence and torture.
He said discipline at the correctional facility in Makkah and other areas was not welcomed by women who had experienced violence in their lives.
Al-Hinaki said that the ministry would call for the immediate completion of the renovation, maintenance and construction work at the facility.
He said this would reduce the problems at the facility. He added that providing accommodation to the women was not the responsibility of the social affairs ministry, which only provides accommodation with the help of charities. – Okaz/SG