Bahrain : Degrading and cruel treatment of Jaw inmates must end immediately

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SHAFAQNA – More than 20 days have passed since reports on torture and mistreatment of inmates in Jaw prison first surfaced. Yet, the mistreatment continues and the inmates are still denied family visits and contact.

“It is most necessary that the degrading treatment of inmates in the Jaw Central Prison be ended, immediately”, said Hadi Almusawi, head of the Liberties and Human Rights Department (LHRD) at Al Wefaq National Islamic Society. “The inmates must be allowed to contact their families who are in great concern over their safety”, he added, ” complaints of mistreatment must be taken seriously by the concerned institutions. The Public Prosecution Office has learned of what is happening to the inmates and should open an investigation into the matter”.

Al Musawi spoke at a press conference in Al Wefaq headquarters in Manama, on Tuesday 31st of March.

He said his department is working on an objective, transparent and inclusive report about the problem and will be delivered to national and international rights organizations.

 

No efforts by National Institution for Human Rights

“It’s important for the Jaw Prison problem, which took place on 10th March 2015, to receive enough attention”, he said, “the benefits of different sides and the negative results were tangled. It is regrettable and painful. But the issue shouldn’t had to go beyond its natural size to reach such serious consequences. The results of the initial incident have brought great sufferings to the victims and their families”.

Almusawi outlined that investigations into such cases requires a considerable space of freedom and protection, which he said are not provided for persons who intend to open transparent and neutral investigations. “We have not seen the Authority open a joint investigation in any of the issues that shocked the society”, he stated. “Nevertheless, we are following and documenting complaints we receive from citizens who have been subjected to rights violations. But we have not heard one thorough official statements on this case yet”.

Almusawi criticized the authorities for acting against the Universal Declaration for Human Rights and the Conventions on civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. The prison officials have acted against law number 18/2014 of the Reform and Rehabilitation Centre. The National Institution for Human Rights also remained silent on the issue, not making a single statement on whether it has visited the prison yet.

 

Details on the events of the Jaw Prison as follows:

Fisrt; worrying and horrifying reports reached the families of all inmates in the Jaw Central Prison on 10thMarch 2015.

Second; pictures showing forces from other than the prison staff inside the prison were leaked.

Third; pictures and reports of inmates with wounds and bruises were leaked.

Fourth; phone calls from inmates to their families were banned. These phone calls are considered a means of reassurance for the inmates and their families.

Fifth; family visits to inmates were banned since the start of the problem, and until today.

Sixth; reports on the police use of excessive force inside the Jaw prison circulated, it became considerably difficult to learn of the consequences and the unknown situation inside the prison. This deepened family concerns.

Seventh; the concerned official institutions were unresponsive and irresponsible when families of inmates approached them to learn the fates of their relatives in the prison.

Eighth; a brief and unilateral-view statement was issued declaring that the acts of violence and vandalism in the prison (on 10th March) have been put under control by the Ministry of Interior.

Ninth: on 11th March 2015, the Public Prosecution Office stated that it reached the prison to investigate and see the wounded policemen and inmates. It confirmed injuries among the inmates, however, the families were not told the names of the wounded inmates.

Tenth: The Public Prosecution Office and Ministry of Interior remained silent from then on while a large number of people waited for any official statement that would reassure them on the condition of the inmates.

Eleventh; appeals, statements and wide concerns found no official response

Twelfth: on 19th March 2015, families of inmates approached the Ombudsman Office which then announced of receiving 105 requests for help.

Thirteenth; the Ombudsman Office published a report on the Bahrain News Agency website. This report was incomprehensive and contradicting to on ground events. The report said family visits continued whilst they were stopped, until today, the families have not been able to see their detained relatives.

Fourteenth: on 19th March 2015, families protested outside UN offices in Manama.

Fifteenth; on 24th March 2015, inmates were allowed to make phone calls not exceeding 1 minute to tell their families to reassure them that they were still alive. Only a limited number of inmates were allowed to make phone calls, though.

Sixteenth: family visits are still banned, through the Ombudsman Office said they have been put back on regular schedule.

 

Almusawi stressed on a number of recommendations:

  1. To immediately end cruel and degrading treatment, which continues after 20 days.
  2. To allow inmates to contact their families and immediately allow families to visit the detainees because the ban was illegal and raised wide concerns among the families.
  3. All allegations must be taken seriously by all sides –including us- because they have been reoccurring and confirmed through evidence, also, because they are related to one’s dignity.
  4. The Public Prosecution Office has learned of the serious allegations and should open an investigation into the incidents. This also implies to the authorities responsible for the safety and rights of the inmates, including the Reform and Rehabilitation Centre. Victims need to enjoy right to resort to legal means for compensation.
  5. We will deliver an inclusive and transparent report on the issue to governmental and non-governmental sides to discuss it with the concerned authorities. This is a humanitarian responsibility which we will not waive even if some sides turned their back on us.

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