The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is hoping to profit from selling its expertise to the prison service in Saudi Arabia, a nation notorious for public beheadings, floggings, amputations and courts that consistently violate human rights.
A new industrial arm of the UK justice ministry, staffed by civil servants, has bid for a £5.9m contract in Saudi Arabia. Just Solutions international (JSi) will quickly start off setting up a probation service in Macedonia, and is also in the operating to construct a prison in Oman.
Human rights groups have raised issues about the MoJ working so closely with a regime presently below scrutiny more than the botched execution of a woman who died protesting her innocence and the harsh punishment meted out to a liberal blogger.
Allan Hogarth, Amnesty’s UK head of policy and government affairs, mentioned: “Amnesty has severe concerns about Saudi Arabia’s justice method, offered its use of the death penalty, the prevalence of torture in detention, and its use of cruel and degrading punishment.
“So we will need to know – how is the MoJ’s scheme going to help increase the circumstance?”
The ministry said that all JSi projects had to be signed off by the Foreign Workplace and the nearby embassy just after an evaluation that covered human rights, but declined to present further information on the grounds that the project was “commercially sensitive”.
A spokesman stated full specifics of the contract, like human rights safeguards, will be made public if JSi is successful, although the organisation’s internet site does not carry details of any prior offers won by it.
The JSi bid was featured in a December report to parliament that also gave specifics of a memorandum of understanding on judicial cooperation signed by the UK and Saudi Arabian justice ministers in Riyadh in September.
It said the contract would be “to conduct a education demands analysis across all the studying and improvement programmes within the Saudi Arabian prison service”.
Like all the overseas projects run by JSi, it aims to raise funds for the National Offender Management Service, which runs prisons and probation solutions in England and Wales.
Saudi Arabia’s justice technique has faced international outcry considering the fact that the activist Raif Badawi was sentenced to ten years in jail and 1,000 lashes for advocating freedom of expression. He has had only 50 lashes so far, and judges have twice delayed the subsequent round of punishment right after healthcare assessements.
This and the botched execution are just two instances amongst numerous that make working with the Saudi Arabian justice method extremely challenging, human rights groups have stated. They have named for greater transparency about each the way the method performs and the safeguards in spot to avoid miscarriages of justice.
“Quiet training programmes are not a substitute for active British engagement with the Saudi authorities on human rights abuses in the justice technique,” mentioned Adam Coogle, Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch. “We uncover that pressure works greater when Saudi abuses are in the international spotlight. They don’t commonly have a tendency to back down simply because somebody has a private conversation. Public advocacy is essential.”
It is also unclear how significantly money JSi will be able to earn for the justice ministry, or whether that revenue will come at the expense of other services, as there are no public accounts for the organisation.
The report to parliament stated that JSi would create far more than half a million pounds “in revenue” for the government, but gave no particulars of the organisation’s outgoings.
A spokesman for the MoJ refused to clarify no matter if employees working at JSi had been assigned from other jobs, and if so, irrespective of whether they were replaced. He also declined to say irrespective of whether any of the employees had commercial knowledge.
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