Officials' prison visits are a big relief for inmates

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Officials prison visits are a big relief for inmates
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Abu Dhabi - Most of the prisoners are arrested on petty charges, like overstay, theft, possession of small amount of drugs/liquor among others.

by

Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Sun 8 Jan 2017, 7:43 AM

Last updated: Sun 8 Jan 2017, 9:47 AM

There are some 900-1,000 Indian prisoners in the jails across the UAE, Indian embassy's first secretary (Community Affairs) Dinesh Kumar said.
The figure, he said, is miniscule compared with the overall Indian expatriate population of about 2.8 million. "Most of them have committed petty crimes. The figure shows that Indians are law-abiding and disciplined people," Kumar, who is head of the Labour and Community Affairs wing at the embassy, said.
Indian embassy and consulate officials make weekly visits to prisons in the UAE, he said. The prison visits are overseen by Kumar.

"Usually we make three visits to Abu Dhabi prison and one to Al Ain every month. We meet 10 to 15 prisoners per visit," Kumar said.
"Officials from the Community Affairs Wing of the embassy visit prisons to meet Indian prisoners every Wednesday. I also have visited on few occasions. We meet prisoners and enquire about their wellbeing." Additionally, a consular team of two officers also makes weekly visit to prison.
"They meet prisoners, who are about to be deported or to be repatriated after completion of their sentence. Then there are cases when prisoners don't have passports. The officers take note of such prisoners and provide them outpass or emergency certificate."
And how many days it takes for completion of paperwork?
"If the need for pass is noted this Wednesday, by next visit it will be handed over to the prisoner. So, from prison itself they will be deported," Kumar said.
For him, the main aim of prison visits is to have an interaction and get a sense of the requirements of the prisoners. For those inside jails, faces of embassy officials are of great relief.
A token amount of Dh50 is being given to the prisoners during every prison visit. "They can use the money to make a call to their family back in India. The money is deposited in their account through a system called 'Amana'. It's like a top-up that can be used to make calls."
The interaction with prisoners is of great benefit to embassy officers too. "The chat helps us to update our database. We will know how many years of their jail term are left, about the nature of crime, likely release date, paperwork if needed, so on and more.
At times it happens that family members of prisoners maybe clueless about their whereabouts and in such cases, the embassy steps in. "We inform their families back home and update them."
Most of the prisoners are arrested on petty charges, like overstay, theft, possession of small amount of drugs/liquor among others. "Most of the cases take one to five years in prison," Kumar said.
There are also cases of murder, financial offences, cheque bounce cases, forgery of documents and prostitution too.
Talking about a recent case, he noted the consular assistance being provided to 10 men, who have been awarded death sentence from Al Ain court on the charge of murdering a Pakistani national.
On the issue of transfer of sentenced prisoners between India and the UAE, Kumar said: "On receipt of required documents and willingness of prisoners, the request will be processed as per the agreement. Most of the prisoners want to complete their jail term here only and then return to India. Every year around 150-200 Indian prisoners get pardon on the occasion of Eid and the UAE National Day."
"Recently, 59 Indian inmates were released on pardon from Abu Dhabi and Al Ain prisons on the occasion of National Day," he added.
ashwani@khaleejtimes.com




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