Monday, March 25, 2019

Fact Not Fiction

The final part of my week long look at the Judicial System in the UAE, again written by a third party

Once you have a bed space in your allotted amber then you’re ready for a day in the life of a prisoner.

5am Breakfast, usually bread with either a boiled egg or yoghurt or cheese, then at 6.30 if you’re going to court you need to be up and on your way, if not then nothing much happens until 8am, you have the chance to see the officers if you have a good reason, for example you need to get your passport from a Police Station so you get put on the list. There is a travel agents in their too, no browsing allowed, one way tickets only, the phones in the ambers are open for 3 hours on a morning and 4 or 5 on an afternoon, the morning is the only time you will get anything “official” done. You also get the chance (twice a week) to go to the shop in the outside area, the prices there are reasonable, but there’s a limit on how much you can buy, 3 packs of cigarettes for example. If you’re a non smoker buy your share and sell them later on in the week to the desperate smokers – I was getting 30-50 Dirhams per pack they also sell headphone radios and batteries. Lunch is at 11am and consists of rice and veg/meat/chicken with a piece of lettuce and some fruit or fruit drink. Bear in mind with 800 mouths to feed this will take a long time, especially as the canteen area only sits 90. Food is given on a metal tray and there is no cutlery, so it’s hands only.

Most people sleep in the afternoons – if they have a space, there is nothing much else to do. Then supper arrives at 5pm, this is macaroni and soup (OK if mixed together) maybe sausages or veg curry and rice, everything is spicy here. After supper there’s nothing to do again, just sit around, talk, there may be some books or a chess board there, but both are heavily prized, you can also occasionally get cards in and rummy is the usual game – obviously gambling is not officially allowed. If you get caught smoking in the toilet area (only place with no cameras, then you get privileges withdrawn for a month (telephone etc.) the only time you can officially smoke is after the meal brakes when you can go outside.

There are 3 counts a day to check everyone is there, you all sit on the floor outside in rows of 10 to be counted, this can often take forever cos half the staff can’t count. There are also search/raids every month where all the amber gets turned upside down, they’re looking for drugs, phones and weapons, and they usually find them too.

Lights out is around 11 or 12, but that doesn’t mean anything, you sleep when you can and when you’re tired. Then it’s back to the beginning.

On Fridays it’s visiting morning, I had one visitor in 13 months, you shout at each other through glass, as does everyone else, personally I didn’t think it was worth it.

Once you get used to the regime, the out jail is not that bad, it can be very frustrating but it’s clean – and cold and very, very boring. The police stations are different, you always need to be on your toes, they’re a very violent and filthy place to be.


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