BCHR: Authorities in Bahrain should release Jaafar Maatouk for humanitarian reasons

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) deplores the continued detention of Jaafar Maatouk, who suffers from visual impairment and is unable to support himself.

Maatouk was arrested in 2014 from Salmaniya Hospital while he was receiving treatment due to an accident that resulted in losing his sight. In November 2016, a Bahraini court issued a ruling against Maatouk with life imprisonment and revoking his nationality in accordance with the Anti-Terrorism Law. The Bahraini Public Prosecution charged him with different charges including incitement to hatred.

Many prisoners in Bahrain with special needs spend their lives in difficult psychological and health conditions after the security authorities arbitrarily arrested them due to their political participation or expressing their opinion. The authorities ignore their obligations towards international treaties by abusing these detainees, especially in light of the spread of the Covid-19 virus, which puts their lives at definite risk. BCHR has documented many cases of detainees and inmates in prison complaining of lack of attention to their health conditions and their demands for access to medical services and healthcare.

The detainee Jaafar Maatouk had previously complained of harassment and denial of treatment, as his family reported. Maatouk, according to the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, carries a special classification. He is from the category of people with disabilities, and this requires specialized care in prison, and this is what the authorities always overlook.

Despite his urgent humanitarian need to be released for his health condition, the authorities in Bahrain refuse to release the detainee even through the alternative penal code, ignoring the ongoing human rights appeals. This is a clear and explicit violation of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which provides for multiple guarantees and facilitation for people with disabilities. The violation of CRPD makes the arrest increase the torment. Maatouk’s family has expressed its concern for the safety of their son, who is deprived of treatment, especially after he was cut off from contacting his family several times.

While the authorities insist on Maatouk’s arbitrary arrest, and not considering his humanitarian situation in light of the spread of the Coronavirus, BCHR calls on the international community to urge the Bahraini authorities to release the blind detainee who cannot move alone without assistance.

Based on the above, BCHR calls on the Bahraini authorities for the following:

  • the immediate release of the blind prisoner Jaafar Ali Maatouk;
  • the release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Bahrain;
  • ensuring the right of all detainees inside Bahraini prisons to be treated humanely, and activating all articles in the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.