JEDDAH: On May 29, Minister of Interior Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif launched the “Furijat” initiative, which allows people to contribute funds to assist detainees in prison for failing to pay off their debts through the proper channels or for defaulting on payments.
So far, thanks to the contribution of more than SR30 million ($8.5 million), 467 detainees have been reunited with their families after their debts were cleared.
According to the head of Public Relations and Media Department at the General Directorate of Prisons, Lt Col. Dr. Bandar Al-Khormi, the initiative was comprehensively studied and reviewed for more than 14 months before its launch.
“The start was truly a success,” he told Arab News. “We noticed that people are urging one another to contribute. There have been many questions about the initiative itself, asking how to participate and (how much) has been contributed.”
Al-Khormi stressed that “Furijat” is being run by a reputable organization, and that the money would be properly managed and dispersed.
“The service is (being run) through the Absher platform, and this what makes it trusted and reliable,” he said. “This (will) prevent any misuse of money. Absher is a trustworthy secure service provider.”
He added that donors are able to verify information about inmates whom they are considering helping and make sure that they are really in need of financial assistance.
“There are committees and employees who carefully examine every imprisoned defaulter’s situation to make sure that they are eligible for the contributions. So there are no fears of adding undeserving names to that list,” he explained, adding that the program could be expanded to include other services, according to certain restrictions and measures. He could not confirm whether those services would include fundraising to help people pay diyya (blood money).
“I can’t predict what services will be added to the program in the future, but I assure you that there are committees working on assessing this initiative and they will come up with ideas and suggestions to develop it in order to help prisoners who really deserve assistance,” he said.
Al-Khormi described the initiative as being “in full compliance with Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030, as it provides support to inmates in need,” noting that it also promotes “social solidarity and charity and voluntary work, ensuring that all these values run parallel to (Vision 2030).”
“The service was primarily meant to be humane and of social benefit. This caring initiative has put the Saudi General Directorate of Prisons head and shoulders above jails worldwide in regard to humanitarian assistance,” he said. “You cannot find such a service in prisons anywhere else in the world. This initiative can be copied elsewhere, but what is important to us is that it is a successful experience that reflects our care for our prisoners.”