In absence of permanent & independent monitoring, Prisoners in Jaw Prison still subjected to torture and ill-treatment

August 20, 2011

Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its deep & serious concern about the continued reports concerning the torture, cruelty and inhuman or degrading treatment which many of the prisoners at Jaw Central Prison are being subjected to, in a flagrant violation of all international charters and laws.

August 20, 2011

Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its deep & serious concern about the continued reports concerning the torture, cruelty and inhuman or degrading treatment which many of the prisoners at Jaw Central Prison are being subjected to, in a flagrant violation of all international charters and laws.

These worrying reports continued to emerge since last year Security Forces assault on the prisoners[1], but have increased in recent months in conjunction with the high pace of the recent crackdown against citizens. And after the increase in the number of political detainees as a result of the deteriorating political and security situation in Bahrain since last February. Meanwhile the Bahraini Government continued to refuse to allow independent observers neither local nor international organizations to visit prisons and observe the conditions of the inmates. The last time an independent delegation visited the central prison was in December 2005, when a delegation from the Bahraini Human Rights Society was granted a visit [2].

The BCHR has received several complaints from a number of relatives of convicted prisoners on political issues, regarding torture and degrading treatment at Jaw prison.

One of the complaints is from Mohammed Hassan Mushaima (son of a prominent opposition leader and Chairman of Haq Movement Hassan Mushaima, who is also currently detained) who is sentenced to one year in prison after his arrest September 2010 on charges of transferring videos and photos showing the protest events in Bahrain to foreign media channels[3]. He had complained from being subjected to torture directly after the arrest of his father apparently as revenge. He was kicked by the prison guards on the orders of Officer Hamad Al Madhahka. They spit on him and he was beaten all over his body, then thrown to the ground after he complained of back pain as a result of being forced to stand continuously as punishment. Then he was moved to the solitary confinement and from it to the isolation prison. He was frequently transferred to solitary confinement for the past four months. Mohammed’s family was not allowed to visit him for five months, directly after February protests. It was only after July 13 when they were allowed. During all this period he was only allowed to contact his family for few minutes. He also complained about the lack of an A/C in his cell considering Bahrain unbearable summer temperatures. He is not allowed to clean his cell or buy personal hygiene materials similar to the rest of the prisoners and within the prison laws. According to his family, Mohammed is being tortured continuously. He also complained from psychological abuse by Al Madhahka, who tried to delude him to believe that his father has died.

Isolation prison is a separate section of the prison where the prisoner isolated from other prisoners if he breaches any of the prison rules. Prisoners are only allowed to spend time in the outdoor arena for very short period, less than an hour a day. They are not allowed to engage in any activities whatsoever outside the cell. Contact with their families is also restricted to the minimum.

Same thing happened with the prisoner Kumail Al Manami, who is sentenced to life imprisonment in what is known as the Murder of Mameer Policeman Case, After a trial that lacked fair trial conditions and ignored calls to investigate torture allegation by defendant[4]. AlManami was admitted to Isolation section immediately after his arrival to Jaw prison. Despite his family continuous appeals to the prison administration to take him out of isolation, he is still there for more than a year now. He was repeatedly transferred to solitary confinement, although he is suffering from mental disorders due to torture he was subject to during the investigation. The prison administration refused, despite repeated requests by his family, to refer him to the psychiatric hospital. Instead he was referred to the prison physician who could not contribute to any improvement in Kumail’s condition. In fact, the medication prescribed caused a decline in his health. Kumail is not allowed out to the outdoor square to see the Sun. His only opportunity to do so is at the time of family visits. Kumail was one of the prisoners who were beaten after riot forces assault on prisoners in Jaw to break a hunger strike July 2010[5].

Archive photo of Kumail showing marks of torture on his face during first months of his arrest 2009

The prisoner Abdullah Mohammed Habib sentenced to seven years imprisonment for attempted murder of a number of security officers[6] has complained about the prevention from drinking water for seven days and he requested to be examined by the forensic doctors to check his body as he is still suffering from severe pain in his right eye and bleeding in his left ear due to kicking it by the security men’s shoes in addition to swelling of both legs from the effects of torture, and swelling of his back and right hand from the effects of beatings with plastic hose, and the effects of cigarette butts. He has asked his family to stop visiting him last July due to being beaten before and after each visit. There were several other requests of prisoners to their families not to visit them after being tortured before and after each visit.

Another complaint is from Nedhal Abdulhasan (the son of martyr Isa Abdalhassan who was shot directly in the head in Feb2011[7]) who said that he is being tortured after he was sentenced on charges of gathering and after being transferred to Jaw prison, where his both hands were chained together behind his back and then he was put on the ground on his stomach and he was hit with pipes on his back and foot, and he was trampled on his back and head. When he told them that he had a previous operation in the stomach, they turned his hands to the front and continue the beating and stomping again. He also complained of sexual harassment and being put in solitary confinement for five days, and preventing him from sleeping and air-conditioning in the cell.

In addition, According to information received by the center, a number of wounded protesters who were tried and sentenced to different imprisonment terms were moved to the central prison and some of them have lost their eyes, like Jaffar Salman Maki Salman, who was wounded with shotgun in the chest and face, and has lost both his eyes, and was sentenced to two years imprisonment on charges of illegal gathering. And Fadhil Abbas Aernot (18 years), who still has shotgun bullets in his body. It is not clear whether the prison is equipped to suit special needs prisoners, and according to the complaints of a number of other prisoners, the medical care they receive is very limited, not necessarily coincide with the actual needs of these injured prisoners to recover from their wounds.

The Bahrain Center has documented in an earlier report that prisoners sentenced to death (Ali Hassan Singace and Abdul Aziz Abdul Rida) after being accused with ran over and death of a policeman were tortured in Jaw prison after their transferred there at the end of last June. They were placed in solitary confinement and assaulted and beaten every day. On their family visit on July 5, 2011 their relatives noticed the broken nose of Ali AlSingace, who did not feel this break because of severe pain in his back and leg, as his leg had been broken earlier before his arrest and it had broken again because of severe beatings. Ali was informed that torture will be stopped for him for 10 days until the healing of bone, but was denied access to a doctor. Bruises were found on both legs of AbdulAziz from what appeared to be kicks with shoes and he was not able to move one of his shoulders because of the pain. The prisoners were suffering from hallucinations because of being in solitary confinement for a long time [8].

In addition to physical torture and beatings, prisoners have complained of pattern of treatment that is bad in general which has worsened since the crackdown on citizens. The periods the prisoners spend out in the arena has been reduced to about two hours per day where in the past they were allowed to spend the day from morning to evening outside the cell. Political prisoners are not allowed to participate in the workshops inside the prison, all their belongings including radios and audio players and books were confiscated, and it was the only few things that were allowed to them previously, but it is now prohibited. They are no longer allowed to receive books from their families. They are often attacked with beating for any wrongdoing, and from time to time some of them will be randomly selected and have their heads shaved against their will. Prisoners also complained of the high number of inmates in one cell which is more than the number of beds (six), and some of them have to sleep on the floor. The prisoners accused in drug addiction cases are not separated from the rest of the inmates. The prison authority merges the criminal and political prisoners together in contradiction to the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners adopted by the First United Nations Forum to prevent the crime.

While Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners states that ” The prison administration shall provide for the careful selection of every grade of the personnel, since it is on their integrity, humanity, professional capacity and personal suitability for the work that the proper administration of the institutions depends.” but the vast majority of the guards, prison staff are non-Bahrainis, but mainly of Pakistani nationality, who are believed to have been programmed against detainees accused in political cases specially those accused in the killing of security men of the same nationality.

These complaints are not new, but it comes at end of a long series of complaints of ill-treatment continued to emerge out of the Jaw prison, despite the prison administration trying to cover up and conceal them, and punish those prisoners who speak out, since the beating and the use of excessive force by members of the special force and riot police against prisoners on hunger strike in July 2010 [9], which inflicted a number of wounded prisoners. The Bahrain Center has previously documented the torture of a blind prisoner Ali Saad October 2010 [10] during the period of his imprisonment in Jaw prison, including exposure to electrical shocks, suspension and beating on all parts of his body and preventing him from bathing. The continued ill-treatment in the prison is the result of lack of regular monitoring from independent bodies, where no independent NGO was given permission to visit the central prison in Jaw since the only time in December 2005, when the Bahraini Human Rights Society BHRS visited the prison. The International Red Cross had its last visit a decade ago, and was not granted permission for another visit despite the repeated requests [11]. It is noteworthy that Bahrain has not yet ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, because it requires that there be a standing committee to visit the prisons and that the visits could be sudden.

BCHR has learnt at the time of writing this report that the Bahraini independent Commission for Inquiry BICI has been allowed to visit the prison, which may contribute to temporary improvement of some conditions of imprisonment, unless a serious step is taken to allow local and international independent ngos to have periodic and ongoing visits to the prison.

” Except for those limitations that are demonstrably necessitated by the fact of incarceration, all prisoners shall retain the human rights and fundamental freedoms set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and, where the State concerned is a party, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Optional Protocol thereto, as well as such other rights as are set out in other United Nations covenants..” – Article 4 of The Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners

Based on the above the Bahrain Center for Human Rights calls the ministry of interiors to:

• Immediately allow local human rights organizations and the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit prisons and places of permanent and temporary detention, and to provide the conditions to do its work neutrally and independently.
• Immediately investigate all allegations of torture or excessive use of force against unarmed prisoners and transfer all those found guilty to a public & transparent trial. And to take into account the recommendations of international organizations in this regard, including those listed in the HRW report last February, as well as the recommendations of the UN Committee against Torture.
• Adhere to the international standards for the treatment of prisoners, especially the basic principles for the Treatment of Prisoners adopted by the United Nations in December 1990 as well as the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners recommend by the First United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Treatment of Offenders, held in Geneva in 1955 and approved by the Economic and Social Council in July.
• The immediate cessation of all forms of abuse and excessive use of force against inmates of the Central prison, and ensure that all prisoners be treated with due respect for the inherent dignity and value as human beings who have the same human rights as referred to in international conventions.
• Allow inmates to exercise their religious freedoms and activities of recreational, cultural and sports freely and allow them access to books and audio recordings, and spend enough time in the arena of detention centers, including the Jaw prison ” and the criminal investigations detention center, and to stop pinch them and deprive them of their religious rights and humanity.
• improve the conditions of prisons and permanent and temporary detention centers, and the women’s prison, and provide necessary health care to those in need, and respect the inmates’ religious beliefs and cultural precepts.
• Bahrain to sign the Optional Protocol against Torture, which involved that there will be a standing committee to visit the prisons and that the visits could be sudden, a practical step that will prove the seriousness of Bahrain to improve prison conditions..

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