Inmates attend an awareness programme at the Sharjah Punitive and Rehabilitation Establishment. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Sharjah: Authorities here are doing everything within their powers to pay off the debts of inmates who owe blood money or restitution for financial crimes to help reformed prisoners start a new life upon their release.

The Sharjah Punitive and Rehabilitation Establishments, in cooperation with its partners, has contributed millions of dirhams to compensate victims of crimes in an effort to restore the lives of convicts who have served a portion of their stipulated prison time and have been pardoned for their crimes.

Dh23m
was paid to settle debts of 122 prisoners last year

The rehabilitation facility, for example, paid Dh3.5 million in blood money last year to help 17 prisoners while the organisation also paid Dh23 million to 122 prisoners to settle their financial debts.

This year, from January 1 to April 26, the punitive facility has paid Dh4.1 million to 39 prisoners to help them settle their financial debts.

In September last year, His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, announced amnesty for Indians serving sentences in Sharjah jails for financial and non-criminal cases. The amnesty applied to 149 prisoners who had completed three years of their sentences.

Dr Shaikh Sultan paid off their debts amounting to Dh20 million.

Colonel Ahmad Suhail, director-general of Sharjah Punitive and Rehabilitation Establishments, told Gulf News that the facility spares no effort to lend a helping hand to their inmates, either by paying their owed blood money, settling their debts and helping their families while their breadwinner [father] serves his jail term.

A special committee has been set up to arbitrate cases in crimes in which inmates sentenced to death are spared when victims’ families are paid blood money.

The Sharjah punitive facility formed the committee to communicate with families of the victims to settle the cases between the two parties.

In 99 per cent of cases, the committee has succeeded in bringing about a settlement.

The facility also prepares a list of inmates who deserve to be pardoned by the Rulers during Ramadan and Eid.

During a visit by Gulf News to the facility, an anonymous donor donated Dh200,000 and settled the financial debts of 10 prisoners who were released immediately after their papers were processed in less than 30 minutes.

Other cases aren’t so simple.

Col Suhail said they are working now to negotiate with an Arab family staying overseas and get them to pardon the killer of their daughter but they have asked for Dh1 million in blood money.

The killer, a Gulf national, is married to an Arab woman and they have a little girl who now lives with her grandmother.

The man has spent several years in jail. “We are trying with the family to reduce the amount. In case they insist on the amount, then the facility in cooperation with its partners [Farj Fund, Sharjah Charity Association, Red Crescent and Ayadi committee] will try to mobilise the amount,” he said.

In another humanitarian case, the Sharjah Punitive and Rehabilitation Establishments allowed one of its prisoners to attend his parents’ burial ceremony recently.

 

New initiative for prisoners

Colonel Ahmad Suhail, director-general of Sharjah Punitive and Rehabilitation Establishments, said an initiative called ‘Start your life’ was launched in September 2017. It gives the inmates a chance to improve their behaviour so that the deportation order against them could be cancelled.

It seems to be benefiting both men and women prisoners. For instance, some Comoros Island nationals who were sentenced to jail and deportation have been offered work under this initiative and given the choice to stay in the UAE.

Dh3.5m
paid in blood money to help 17 prisoners get pardon last year

They are employed in the facility and a monthly salary is paid to them.

The first batch of the programme consists of 17 men and women aged 25 to 35 years. “To date, 90 per cent of them have improved their behaviour,” Col Suhail said.

In case the person fails, then he/she will be deported, he said.

The second batch of beneficiaries under the initiative started working in the facility from the beginning of Ramadan.