Government defends plans to provide prison/probation services in Saudi Arabia and Oman

As previously reported, the Gulf Center for Human Rights is challenging the legality of the UK Ministry of Justice’s ‘commercial arm’ Just Solutions International (JSi). JSi is bidding to provide prison and probation services in various countries with appalling human rights records, including Saudi Arabia and Oman.

GCHR’s grounds for bringing the case are here. The government served its defence on 29 July 2015. Defences in cases like this often try to use technical arguments to knock out the case, but the government has agreed that GCHR can take over the case as Claimant instead of the previous Claimant AB; that GCHR has standing to bring the claim; and that the case was brought in good time. These are all significant steps forward for the case.

Although the government says that it is reviewing the underlying issues, it is unclear what that means. In the meantime they are defending the case, and they claim that they have the legal power to do anything that is identifiably governmental, including, in this case, raising money by using the public sector to provide services to other governments on a commercial basis. By that logic, the government could open casinos or buy racehorses in order to raise revenue.

GCHR’s reply to the government’s defence is due on Wednesday 5 August 2015. We will post it for people to view, but we can’t publicise the government’s defence. You will have to ask them for it if interested! In the meantime, please help – and ask your family and friends to do so too – GCHR reach its fund-raising target to enable it to continue the case here.

GCHR are represented by Adam Hundt, Daniel Carey and William Russell of our Bristol office, and Dan Squires, of Matrix Chambers.

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