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Bahrain mulls giving time off to prisoners

Manama, January 8, 2013

Inmates of Bahrain jails who have completed half of their sentences could soon be allowed time outside prison with their families, a report said.

The Shura Council yesterday backed the plan, which would give them time off every six months, according to the report in our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News.

However, only prisoners who have spent at least a year in jail and who behave will benefit.

The decision was reached after council members threw out a parliament amendment that would have given inmates weekly private time with their wives inside prison.

A number of amendments to the law approved mean eligible prisoners will be given a certain time to report back to prison.

If they come late or fail to show up, they will be considered runaways and referred back to court for additional punishment.

Council foreign affairs, defence and national security committee chairman Dr Shaikh Khalid bin Khalifa described parliament's insertion of the phrase "private moments" into the bill as degrading to women.

"It is not nice for a wife - who will be seen by scores of policemen - to come and meet her husband for sex every week," he said.

"Wives, and women in general, are respected and allowing this degrades their status in the community and society."

Dr Shaikh Khalid said the idea of respected wives waiting in line to have sex with their husbands in "special places" within prisons was not acceptable. "Imagine policemen telling women to enter rooms - 'next wife go to room six'," he said.

"It means every day a bed would be used by a number of couples, if we give each half an hour. Cleaning the place in hotels takes 20 minutes and that's not possible in prison, taking into consideration the number of people who will be allowed such a privilege per day."

Dr Shaikh Khalid claimed sexually transmitted diseases could even spread, adding allowing inmates conjugal prison visits in Saudi Arabia and Jordan had not worked. "A lot of wives don't show up to have sex with their husbands in prison and in practice it was a failure," he said.

An Interior Ministry official told council members that there was a common misconception about the policy.

"The idea that private time is needed with wives is wrong, because it should be directed to the whole family," he said.

"We have already introduced a practice whereby we allow certain prisoners to go out every six months to meet their families, sit with them, eat with them - and if they want to make love, it's up to them. But, we can't encourage it openly as the only need that human beings have."

Discussions about conjugal visits came as council members discussed a new law governing Bahrain's prisons and detention centres, which have been renamed correctional facilities by law. – TradeArabia News Service

Tags: Bahrain | Shura Council | Jail | prisoners |

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