Abu Dhabi: A fund created by an Emirati government official has paid off debt, blood money and fines of tens of thousands of people languishing in jails across the country.
The Faraj Fund also supports hundreds of families of the prisoners, Major-General Dr Nasser Lakhrebani Al Nuaimi, chairman of the Board of the fund, told Gulf News.
Maj-Gen Al Nuaimi still remembers the smiling face of a Bangladeshi man who was freed after languishing in jail for not being able to pay blood money, despite serving mandatory imprisonment. The man had lost all hopes as he did not have any means to pay the blood money for being held responsible for the accidental death of three of his compatriots who worked with him in his unlicensed contracting firm.
“He was a hardworking man. However, mistakes do happen! His family was suffering because of his incarceration,” said he said.
“It was the first cheque of Faraj Fund I signed and I was very happy,” Maj-Gen Al Nuaimi told Gulf News in an interview about the very first case solved by the fund in 2009.
As of 2017, the fund has spent several millions of dirhams to help release 7,800 inmates from prisons across the UAE to restart their life. Also, 910 families of prisoners received support, he said.
The beneficiaries are people of all nationalities. “We follow the UAE’s principle of treating everyone equally, irrespective of their nationality, religion or race. Moreover, we consider all foreigners as part of this country,” he said.
The fund extends help to families that are suffering when a family member, especially a breadwinner, is imprisoned. “Even the prisoner is at fault, his or her family is innocent. That’s why we support those innocent family members,” he said.
The idea emerged when Maj-Gen Al Nuaimi was serving as the Secretary-General of the Office of Lt-General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior. Now, Maj-Gen Al Nuaimi is the Chairman of the Security, Justice and Safety Committee of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.
He had come across some inmates who could be released from jails, if they were able to pay small amounts of fines or compensation to the victims of their crimes. “Although the government is helping such people, a government cannot do everything.”
There are many philanthropists who want to help such prisoners but they cannot donate money to the government. If there is an organisation, those people will get a platform to donate.
Therefore, Maj-Gen Al Nuaimi and some senior officers planned to establish a non-profit organisation for this purpose.
“I spoke to His Highness [Shaikh Saif] and he gave his permission and blessings.”
In 2009, the then Ministry of Social Affairs [currently Ministry of Community Development] recognised the organisation. Then, many people voluntarily came forward to donate money for this cause.
“That’s why we have been able to release 7,800 prisoners since 2009,” he said.
Maj-Gen Al Nuaimi added: “We have a committee for Faraj Fund in every prison, which studies the case of each prisoner and social impact of his or her imprisonment, and takes action accordingly. This is a very good example for the social commitment of officers.”
The fund will soon launch a mobile application to facilitate crowd funding. “The app will show each case and the total amount required to help. Even people will be able to donate as little as Dh10. The app will update the status of the cases after receiving each donation and show the remaining amount required,” Maj-Gen Al Nuaimi explained.
How to contact Faraj Fund
Phone: 800-FARAJ (80032725)