Sentenced to sweep

Don’t be surprised if a convict is seen sweeping roads, scrubbing graffiti off walls or cleaning in public places in Oman. This is now a punishment in addition to the original sentence that the Omani courts can now hand down to a convict depending on the types and degrees of the offence. Known as social or community service, Article 57 of the new Omani Penal Code provides supplementary penalties for certain offences.
“This will send a strong message to offenders. This will also ensure that the convicts are punished in some way or the other than simply serving a jail term or paying a fine which can be nothing in the way of a deterrent”, opined Abdulrahman, an educationist.
In a recent verdict, a Primary Court in Salalah sentenced a number of offenders to sweep and clean roads for four hours a day as supplementary punitive measure in addition to the original sentence.
According to the sentence, which is the first of its kind in the Sultanate, the offenders can be jailed for one month if they don’t comply with the order.
The new penal code that was introduced in Oman in the first week of February this year provides appropriate punishment in accordance with the needs and interests of the society.
The new law, which contains 389 articles, is comprehensive and aims to protect both individual rights as well as national interests.
It demands the people to maintain public order and moral as well as safety of the individual property and souls.
Community sentencing for certain categories of not-so-serious offences has drawn the attention of people around the world.
“It’s a healthy mode of punishment as it serves as community services offer help to the offenders to rehabilitate themselves more effectively than in the prison”, said Aahmed Abdullah, an educationist at Sultan Qaboos University.
According to him, community service punishments are normally awarded to offenders in cases like traffic violations, petty theft and other similar cases.
“If an offender is given a punishment to clean a park, he will understand the effect of dirtying or littering a public place and will change his perception towards littering”, he said.
He said that to make community service more effective, those undergoing it must be required to work hard, and they must be closely supervised.
“Community service is an excellent way to make minor criminals give back to society. It gives them a chance to put something back to the community and maybe learn new skill which could help them get a job.”