MoJ seeks prison contracts with Saudi Arabia

The Ministry of Justice’s commercial arm bids for contract with Saudi Arabian Prison Service

By Sarah.Aston

26 Jan 2015

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has proposed to sell their expertise and training to the Saudi Arabian Prison Service, as part of their plans to promote UK growth.

According to the MoJ’s mid-year report to parliament, Just Solutions international (JSi) – the commercial brand for the MoJ’s National Offender Management Service – submitted a proposal worth £5.9m to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in August 2014.

If the bid is accepted, the MoJ will conduct a “training needs analysis” across all the learning and development programmes within the Saudi prison service.

JSi has also submitted a “large scale” bid to assist the Royal Oman Police with designing a new prison. Discussions with the Oman police force about development training programmes are also currently taking place.

According to the MoJ, the bids are part of a wider government initiative to actively promote “the UK as a global centre for legal expertise” and an attempt to build upon the £551k generated by JSi in 2013-14.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “Just Solutions international provides knowledge and expertise of prison and offender management services to international organisations and governments who work with offenders.

“It has been government policy for many years to work with overseas governments and help them develop their criminal justice systems, utilising that knowledge to bring funds to the public purse.

“JSi does not work with countries unless it is completely safe to do so and details of any contracts will be made public when agreed.”

However, Amnesty International UK’s head of policy and government affairs Allan Hogarth said: Beyond the usual aspirational language, can Chris Grayling [secretary of state for justice] demonstrate that Just Solutions international will actually be able to concretely improve detention practices in Saudi Arabia without becoming complicit in abuse?

“For example, is JSI going to be challenging and seeking to prevent abuses when it comes across malpractice, and indeed what human rights safeguards and training are going to be built into any programme?

“The UK already has a track record of selling vast quantities of arms to Saudi Arabia while remaining markedly reluctant to publicly criticise Riyadh for its atrocious human rights record. We don’t want prison trainers turning a blind eye to torture and other abusive prison practices in the Kingdom.”

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