Muscat: It was a golden opportunity for the prisoners who found themselves grappling with intractable financial problems. The Omani Lawyers Association (OLA) organised the 'Fak Kurbah' campaign for the release of debtors languishing in jails.
"My heart was broken, realising I would have to spend Eid holidays with my child inside the jail. But 'Fak Kurbah' opened for me and my child the door to freedom so that I can celebrate Eid with my family," said a woman, who had been in jail with her child for the last eight months.
"All the doors were shut, but there was a glimmer of hope in my heart that made me wait inside the jail," said the woman, with tears in her eyes.
She said she could not imagine how happy she was when she heard the news. "I cannot forget this for the rest of my life," she said, while adding that her life has changed from being a person surrounded by the prison's dark walls, along with her little baby, to a life of freedom.
Amina Al Busaidi, a lawyer and an organiser of 'Fak Kurbah' campaign, said: "We have come across many cases which deserve financial support for release from the prison. But the rules in place limit our help to only certain cases."
She added: "We have successfully collected more than OMR100,000 so far." She also noted that though the group's deadline for collecting money was over by July 17, they have received several requests to extend the collection period until Eid. "Individuals asked for extending the period, as they are waiting for their salary to donate some cash and support the campaign," said Al Busaidi.
"We try not to meet or contact the persons released by our campaign to avoid embarrassment to them," said Al Busaidi.
She added that the group has received requests from the relatives of prisoners who were jailed for owing more than OMR5,000, while noting, "but we can't do anything in such cases as our limit is up to OMR5,000".
She explained: "Some people say they can pay the rest amount after the payment of OMR5,000, but still we can't help unless they pay their part first."
Al Busaidi added that their goal is to close the files in the court and make sure the prisoners are released from the prison.
"The 'Fak Kurbah' campaign is a noble cause to enable people languishing in jail to celebrate Eid with their loved ones."
She added that this is the time when Omanis should show generosity and compassion towards those who are unfortunate.
The OLA plans to close the files in as many as 625 cases, but estimates it would need some OMR500,000 to reach its target. "Our target this year is to bring to a close 500 cases estimated to cost around OMR500,000," said Al Busaidi.
She said the first campaign had resulted in the release of 44 debtors from prison. "We paid off their debts and closed their case files," she said, while noting that the association decided to take up the cause because its members had come across several cases where debtors were in financial distress due to difficult circumstances.
The lawyer added, "This year, the association, in cooperation with the Judiciary Affairs Council at the Supreme Council of Judiciary, decided to expand its scope to include debtors facing court cases across the Sultanate."
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