JEDDAH, 6 April 2005 — Human rights officials are calling for swift action after a visit to the Deportation Center at Briman Prison revealed deplorable conditions, from overcrowding and lack of adequate sanitation to children lingering for months in the holding cells as their parents await deportation.
The Human Rights Committee and Prisoner’s Care Committee intend to present the findings from their visit to Interior Minister Prince Naif, Al-Madinah newspaper reported. The findings include the slow deportation of prisoners, prison overcrowding and other concerns about the living conditions and the absence of hygiene facilities, which has led to health problems for a number of people incarcerated for many months.
The committee said that it will investigate claims from some prisoners about fees imposed on prisoners for beds, food and water and use of toilets.
The female deportation center is overcrowded. There are more than 40 female prisoners of different nationalities being held with their children in an unsanitary environment.
A number of prisoners in the past have complained about the lengthy deportation process. Hussein Al-Shareef, president of Human Rights Committee in Makkah, said that the deportation section of the prison needs immediate improvement. “It has been established that procedures are slow, which leads to overcrowding inside the prison,” Al-Shareef said.
He also expressed concern about a 10-year-old child among the prisoners and he plans either to see that the committee takes care of the youngster and places him with Social Services or his relatives.
He said the committee also would study the situation of deportees who have Saudi mothers or fathers.
Al-Shareef said there are 353 prisoners who need immediate improvement in their conditions. The committee also found out that there is no cooperation between the prison and foreign consular offices.
Ghazi Al-Sabban, a member of prisoner’s care committee, said there are orders from Makkah Governor Prince Abdul Majeed to finish the disposition of the foreign prisoners and to speed up deportation procedures. He pointed out that in the past some consular offices have been reluctant to receive prisoners.
Al-Jawhara Al-Angari, president of the family rights committee in Makkah, said that the female deportee center is unsuitable. She said there are 40 female prisoners from African and Asian countries cramped into a very small place with their children. She noted that regulations require that prisoners be deported within four days of the issue of a deportation notice. But many of them have spent several months in the prison, Al-Jawhara said and demanded that officials visit the place and see for themselves.
Abdulrahman H. is a deportee prisoner inside the prison. He is married to a Saudi woman and in prison for months. He said that until now he did not receive the deportation order nor was he allowed to take his wife with him to his country. He blames the slow procedures for his suffering.
Osama Abdul Kader, a 10-year-old Burmese national, said he is in prison along with his mother and father. He has lived in prison for many months. He said Myanmar does not have consular offices here and no other country will accept them.