Bahrain Crackdown: Opinion Prisoners Denied Medical Care - HRW Warns
By Staff, Agencies
Bahrain’s authorities are failing to provide adequate medical care to high-profile prisoners, Human Rights Watch [HRW] and the Bahrain Institution for Rights and Democracy [BIRD] said.
Two detained human rights defenders, as well as the family members of four detained opposition activists, told Human Rights Watch and BIRD that prison authorities are arbitrarily denying the prisoners urgent medical care, refusing to refer them to specialists, failing to disclose medical examination results, and withholding medication as a form of punishment.
All six detainees are serving prison terms in connection with their prominent roles in opposition and pro-democracy protests in 2011 onward.
“It is outrageous that Bahraini authorities are denying detainees medical care that they urgently need, in some cases putting their lives in danger,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
“Many of these people should not have been imprisoned in the first place, and arbitrary denial of medical care may amount to extrajudicial punishment.”
Denying a prisoner needed medical care violates the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, known as the Mandela Rules.
Under the Mandela Rules, prisoners who require specialist treatment should be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals. Since 10 prisoners escaped from Jaw Prison on January 1, 2017, authorities have shackled all prisoners whenever they leave their cells. International human rights mechanisms have said that the use of restraints on elderly or infirm prisoners who do not pose an escape risk can constitute ill-treatment. Rule 47 of the Mandela Rules states that restraints should only be used to prevent escape or to prevent prisoners from injuring themselves or others.
Jaw Prison authorities have also denied medical care to prisoners convicted of alleged ‘violent political crimes.’
On August 15, more than 600 prisoners in the Jaw Prison and Dry Dock Detention Center began a hunger strike to protest prison conditions, including denial of medical care.