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Jail is for men

Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli

WE hear this expression widely in Egyptian movies and those sentenced to jail for crimes they’ve perpetrated or wrongdoings use it as a cover-up, but we don’t know what masculine gender has to do with a prison that obviously takes in women, transvestites, and others without exceptional categorization of men- according to the criteria of our Egyptian brothers…

We are now back to the local scene and specifically Sulaibiyah prison. The decision to build Sulaibiya prison was not expressed publicly in the 1990s to accommodate 3,000 inmates, according to information dropped by former Minister of Interior Sheikh Ahmad Al-Hamoud during a Cabinet meeting at that time.

I have had a meeting with the Minister of Interior who was relieved of his post when the suspicious Army Fund issue was raised and his name was mentioned about two months ago. I asked the distinguished brother Sheikh Khalid Al-Jarrah, in my capacity as member of the National Human Rights Bureau, where I am Chairman of the Complaints and Petitions Committee: How many inmates do we have in the central Prison of Kuwait now? His response was shocking as expected when he said the number of male and female inmates has almost reached 5,000 … meaning the prison is crowded beyond its capacity!

This is no surprise, considering the rate of novelty crimes that attract prison sentence without excuse, and an increase in the number of other regular crimes. Our guided parliaments and governments promulgated the highest number of laws stipulating jail terms for the most trivial reasons, which begin with extension of the period of protective detention. Therefore, all devils in the universe cannot imagine the penalties for violating audiovisual laws!

In a situation where a youth expresses his personal opinion concerning politics, history or a neighboring state in a mere opinion written on the damned machine (iphone), he may not even mean it. He could even change the opinion later and nobody may read it or only a few people may have read it, but the judges will slam a jail term of 5 or 7 years on him based on the law of Nazism. This does not happen in other countries except Kuwait, peace be upon the Holy Prophet!

A civil rights official who follows up such issues told me a shocking story. He said a recent court verdict that jailed a blogger for 5 years with hard labor for offending a neighboring state made the total number of verdicts in the humanitarian country against bloggers, activists and opinion leaders to reach seven hundred. Ending my comment on the shocking news, I’ll say it did not happen during the dark ages!!

Therefore, I use this platform to call for amendment to related laws by removing prison terms and limit the punishment to fine or replace it with community service, as suggested by some lawmakers. This is what is practised in advanced countries and it’s an appropriate opinion. Why do we keep an opinion writer who only expresses his mind or belief with rapists, robbers and forgers in the same cell?!! If truly jail is for men, according to our Egyptian brothers, I beg our distinguished legislators in the Parliament and government not to regard the opinion crime perpetrators through audiovisual laws.

By Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli

Former Minister of Oil

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