x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Plan for GCC prisoners abroad to go home

GCC junior justice ministers agree to new laws at meeting in capital.

ABU DHABI // GCC countries will be able to trade prisoners and enable them to serve their sentences in their home countries under a proposal by Kuwait yesterday.

The bloc's junior justice ministers started a two-day meeting in the capital yesterday and confirmed a number of proposals, which will be considered for approval by senior ministers at a second meeting, expected next week.

As well as prisoner exchanges, the junior ministers discussed a GCC-wide child rights law, a law for family courts, a model judicial authority law, and an IT security law that has been in the works for four years.

Abdul Aziz Al Majed, the undersecretary for the Kuwaiti ministry of justice, explained the proposed prisoner-swap deal, which would formalise arrangements already in place.

"If Kuwait has a bilateral agreement with the Philippines to exchange prisoners, and we request a Kuwaiti citizen in one of their prisons for exchange but we don't have any Filipino prisoners, while Saudi has one for instance, under this agreement we can exchange Saudi's prisoner for our own," Mr Al Majed said.

He said he expected it to be passed soon but "first we have to form a committee to study it and then it will be presented to the ministers for final approval".

While GCC countries are signatories to international agreements on child rights, none has its own law. The officials discussed drafting a law that could be used as a model for each country.

One member of UAE delegation said the law would cover "all aspects affecting child rights".

It would include establishing judicial committees to deal with children's testimonies in court, which is not covered by UAE law.

At present, the decision on how to treat children rests with judges and, in most cases, children do not testify.