The penitentiary institutes and detention centres in Qatar strictly follow the international standards in maintaining the dignity and humanity of their inmates, in addition to providing them with appropriate health care, affirmed Dr Mohamed Saif al-Kuwari, head of the observation and visits commission at the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC).

Speaking to local Arabic daily Arrayah, he said that the committee conducted 250 field visits to the detention centres and the various penitentiary institutes in the country other than workers assembly places, health facilities and educational institutes within the past five years, to ensure that human rights are upheld in accordance with the highest practices.

The commission is planning to increase the rate of these visits to up to 100 a year to further boost the implementation of the international human rights standards, explained Dr al-Kuwari, who is also a member of the NHRC.

The commission's visits are unannounced and starts with a meeting with the officials in charge of the detention centres to inquire about the status of implementing human rights standards. Then the team would conduct a field of visit of the place and check all its facilities including the food offered to the prisoners or inmates and the various essential services. Then, the members of the team conduct direct and open meetings with the prisoners away from the presence of any guards or police personnel. Accordingly, a full and independent assessment of the human rights situation would be done to issue the necessary recommendation.

Dr al-Kuwari pointed out that so far the situation is very positive and free movement within the facility for the prisoners is guaranteed as they are not handcuffed or chained. The security administration concerned allows prisoners to submit their complaints through the approved legal channels and procedures without the fear of any backslash. The administration also informs the prisoners about any deaths or serious incidents among their close relatives. In case the issue is serious, the administration may allow the prisoner to visit his sick relative.

The NHRC member stressed that women prisoners enjoy good health care and those pregnant gets due access to all the necessary follow-ups. Also, women with babies are given special care and diapers and milk for their babies. In addition, women prisoners are taught dressmaking, embroidery and other related occupation to make better use of their prison terms.

Regarding the free practice of different religious rites inside Qatar prisons, Dr al-Kuwari observed that this is fully granted without any discrimination among the followers of different faiths. Besides, all prisoners are allowed communication with their respective clergymen. He pointed out that rooms of the prisoners and those detained comply with the related intentional standards. The same applies to the attached service facilities such as toilets, food halls, kitchens, and showers. Prisons also provide recreation facilities and a library in addition to access to some satellite channels.

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