RIYADH: SHARIF M. TAHA
Published — Thursday 28 February 2013
Last update 1 March 2013 4:25 pm
About 47 percent of the estimated 47,000 inmates in the Kingdom’s prisons are in jail for drug-related crimes, said Director General of Prisons Maj. Gen. Dr. Ali bin Hussain Al-Harthi.
Al-Harthi was responding to reports that over 70 percent of all prisoners have been incarcerated for trafficking and dealing in illicit drugs.
“This rate has been exaggerated. There are no more than 47 percent of all inmates charged with drug-related crimes,” he was quoted as saying in local media.
Al-Harthi said the prison authorities have various measures in place to prevent drugs being smuggled into prisons by visitors and friends of inmates.
There are 23,000 Saudis and 24,000 foreigners in the Kingdom’s jails, he added.
He said Saudi women account for 6 to 7 percent of the prison population. There are more foreign women than Saudi women in the country’s jails, mostly for minor crimes, he added.
He said the General Directorate of Prisons has built four new prisons with another nine currently under construction.
Al-Harthi said the prison authorities are making sure that inmates are provided with world-class services and care as ordered by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.
He denied reports that inmates were being punished with hard labor. He said inmates are involved in projects that will benefit them on their release.
In this regard, an agreement has been concluded with the Saudi Industrial Property Authority (Modon) for the establishment of 120 factories where inmates can find work after completing their prison terms. Modon-affiliated factories also provide work for prisoners who are still completing their sentences.