An interview published in today’s Gulf Times with the director of Qatar’s Penal and Reformatory Institutions Department gives an unusual amount of information about the lives of prisoners in Qatar.
Colonel Mohamed Saud al-Utaibi says that each inmate has the right to make two phone calls a month, and non-Qataris are also allowed to receive occasional phone calls from their relatives.
He also says that the prison is about to start granting access to Skype, Twitter and Yahoo Messenger to help inmates keep in touch with their families.
“This would make things easy, especially for foreign inmates, and ease the burden of cost on their relatives. This idea was highly received by the inmates and they are eagerly waiting for its launch. However, this would not in anyway be an alternative for the usual visits they are entitled to,” he said.
He goes on to explain that prisoners are kept occupied with activities like crafts, gardening and sport.
Female prisoners – of whom there are only 13 in Qatar – are given “appropriate” crafts to do, he says, like dress making and drawing.
He also describes the prison’s approach to Ramadan, providing a special Iftar meal for prisoners each evening, which Muslims and non-Muslims share together. Non-Muslims are not expected to fast during the day, but they must eat out of sight of Muslim inmates.
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