Al Wefaq Human Rights: more than 1300 prisoners beaten in Jaw

SHAFAQNA – The Liberties and Human Rights Department (LHRD) in Al Wefaq National Islamic Society said it has written to the International Red Cross to take immediate measures to protect the prisoners in the Jaw central prison in Bahrain. The LHRD also urged to establish an independent commission to investigate the incidents that took place inside the prison and hold involved officials accountable.

“The situation inside the Jaw prison are worrying, especially with prisoners being prevented from family visits and phone-calls”, the LHRD stated.

Based on information received by the LHRD, riot police forces used birdshot and tear gas against the protesting prisoners at around 3 pm on Tuesday 10th March 2015. This attack resulted in many casualties among the prisoners. After the situation calmed, the police forces attacked the prisoners inside the buildings where the prisoners were severely beaten with batons, wooden sticks and plastic tubes.

According to testimonies received by the LHRD, some prisoners were asleep and were surprised to wake up to find the police beating them. A number of prisoners said that the forces saw that the prisoners were bleeding but continued to beat them. The police them led the prisoners outside the buildings where the assaults continued. A number of prisoners were taken to other buildings to be beaten, while many others continued to suffer from mistreatment and assaults.

Also, according to testimonies, the riot police forces insulted the prisoners through religious abuse by throwing the Holy Quran to the floor and breaking praying tablets (turba). The prisoners were also prevented from doing their prayers and forces to repeat pro-regime slogans. The police confiscated food and clothes and banned meals.

The LHRD confirmed that 1300 prisoners – detained with political and criminal cases- were beaten on the head, back, abdomen and legs, since Tuesday.

Separately, the LHRD confirmed 155 cases of mistreatment against prisoners in various detention centres,  since the beginning of 2015. Assaults and deprivation from medical care and phone-calls made up most the violations.

The prisoners in Jaw prison were previously subjected to repeated attacks. Families said prisoners in wards 3 and 6 were severely beaten, kicked and slapped. They were also prevented from family visits and phone calls. In May 2014, the prison saw similar incidents due to the prison administration’s failure to respect fundamental human rights, such as right to medical care and healthy environment.

The LHRD called on the international community to take measures that would ensure the Bahraini Authorities’ respect to human rights and international conventions. The Authorities must implement Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners in accordance with international rights covenants of which Bahrain is signatory to, the LHRD said. It also urged the Jaw prison administration to allow prisoners to speak to their families.

Although official institutes like the Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission and the Ombudsman Office attended a South Africa conference on the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, both institutions failed the Jaw prisoners.

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