In a major legal reform, people convicted for minor offences can now be asked to do community service by a trial court instead of being jailed or fined.
Qatar yesterday amended a key legislation to let the spirit of reform take precedence over the compulsion to punish as it empowered the prosecution to request a court to order a convict to do community service instead of spending time in a prison or paying a fine.
However, if a convict refuses to do community service, he would have the freedom to spend time in jail or pay a fine or do both, as decided by the trial court.
The law specifies the type of offences that are to be treated as minor for the purpose of committing a convict to community service.
The Heir Apparent and Deputy Emir, H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, yesterday issued a law amending some key provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (Number 23 of 2004).
The code was amended in 2006 vide Law Number 28, while the original law (Number 11) governing minor offences was enforced in 2004.
The amendment authorises Public Prosecution to urge a court to ask someone convicted for a minor offence to do community service for a maximum of 12 days.
Asked for a comment, lawyer Mohsin Thiyab Al Suwaidi, while lauding the amendment, said convicts could, for example, be asked to serve in orphanages and homes for the aged.
He said he could not comment extensively on the amendment until he had studied it.
Another key amendment introduced by the Deputy Emir was to Law Number 25 of 2001, which specifies fines for the father or guardian of a child for not sending him to school without a valid reason.
The amendment (introduced vide Law No. 25 of 2009) increases the fine for the above offence to between QR5,000 and QR10,000, from QR1,000 and QR5,000 earlier.
According to Al Suwaidi, the law is applicable to both nationals and expatriate families.
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