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BCHR Issues Report on "Jaw Prison": Bahraini Government's Brutality in Country's Central Prison

2015-07-03 - 8:15 p

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Three human rights organizations, Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) and Bahrain Institution for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) issued a report on the events that took place in Jaw Central Prison (March 10, 2015) based on interviews with inmates who were released weeks following the attack.

The report stated that the prisoners were collectively punished and that riot police shot tear gas and birdshot in close quarters to subdue the inmates. "Having used excessive force to re-establish control over the prison, police then led inmates into courtyards, where they were collectively beaten and humiliated. The prisoners were deprived of food for days at a time and prevented from bathing for several weeks," the report further read.

"This is a new low," said Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of ADHRB. "Bahrain has always had a terrible torture record, but the scale of abuse we are witnessing at Jaw Prison is beyond anything that has happened since 2011," he added.

Additionally, the report provides analysis on the response of the Government of Bahrain and related government-sponsored human rights institutions, including the Ombudsman of the Ministry of Interior, the National Institute for Human Rights, and the Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission; it finds that the responses of these institutions have been inadequate and, at times, have even contributed to the deteriorating human rights situation at Jaw.

The report also finds that many imprisoned peaceful activists were caught in the events of March 2015. According to one inmate, authorities treated Naji Fateel, a human rights defender, "like an animal," despite his not having taken part in the riot. Prison officials also beat Abbas Al-Samea, a teacher, so severely that they knocked out his teeth.

"Bahrain desperately wants to push the narrative that torture is a diminishing problem, and that the government has taken massive strides against this type of abuse," said Sayed Ahmed Al-Wadaei, Director of Advocacy at BIRD. "The truth is that the situation has never been worse. The only new development is the government's increased capacity to hide its crimes," stressed Al-Wadaei.

Bahraini authorities have also targeted citizens who attempt to document these abuses. In April 2015, for example, police arrested Nabeel Rajab on charges of ‘insulting a statutory body' and another charge related to free expression, after he publicly documented injuries resulting from torture at Jaw prison.

"There is something seriously wrong when documenting torture can land you in prison" said Said Yousif Al-Muhafdah, Vice-President of BCHR. "This is how Bahrain tries to hide its problem, with enforced silence," he added.

The report also stressed that Bahrain's international allies have failed to press the Government of Bahrain to establish a transparent and accountable system of criminal justice, calling on the United Kingdom and United States to publicly address the failings at Jaw Prison and actively engage the Government of Bahrain on actionable reforms for the country's judicial and prison systems.

The report further calls on a full investigation into the police response to the riot and the prosecution of all police officers and prison officials responsible for torture and ill-treatment since March.

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