47,000 inmates, mainly foreigners, in Saudi prisons

March 1, 2013

Slightly less than half of the inmates in Saudi Arabia are Saudi nationals, the head of prisons has said. “There are around 47,000 inmates, including 23,000 Saudis,” Dr Ali Bin Hussain Al Harithi said.

“The number of Saudi women in jails is around six or seven per cent of the total number of women inmates and most of them are held for simple offences,” he said, quoted by local Arabic daily Al Riyadh on Wednesday.

Al Harithi denied reports that more than 70 per cent of the inmates were held on drug-related charges. “The figure is not true and lacks credibility. The fact is around 47 per cent are held on drug-related charges. However, the figure is still very high and denotes that Saudi youth are being targeted. The anti-drugs teams are deploying great efforts to combat this phenomenon and we wish them success in their endeavours,” he said.

Al Harithi said that Saudi Arabia did not support the forced labour concept in its prisons. “The concept of forced labour either in old or modern correctional facilities does not exist. Our goal is to enable the inmate to engage in an activity that helps him both in the facility and after his release. The standard is to work in a factory or a workshop for eight hours a day,” Al Harithi said. “We have recently established 120 factories where inmates can work.”




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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