Why Are Authorities Still Taking Isolation Measures against Prisoners?
2020-12-13 - 6:08 p
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The Bahraini government is easing measures for combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and life is returning to the island nation. Malls, restaurants and cafes have resumed their work as well as sports activities that are held without an audience. People can now meet with each other, except for prisoners, who no one speaks about. They have been deprived of family visits for about 8 months.
In March 2020, the Government of Bahrain announced strict measures to face the Coronavirus outbreak. The Interior Ministry stopped family visits for prisoners and said it would temporarily replace those visits by allowing prisoners to make video phone calls. With time, it started punishing prisoners by denying them such access under various pretexts, and sometimes prisoners would be allowed to perform these calls and sometimes not.
Eight months or more have passed, and the government is making decisions to resume commercial activities, open the airport, as well as the Bahrain and Saudi causeway. Sports activities and gyms are back, while the Interior Ministry is completely silent about when it will allow visits with prisoners.
Prisoners have been suffering since last March. As has traditionally been the case, the anti-pandemic measures have been used to harm them more than ever before, as abuse increased in Jaw prison in conjunction with the Coronavirus epidemic. The prison administration has used preventive measures as an excuse to increase the suffering of prisoners and their families. In fact, the prison administration has taken advantage of the pandemic situation to impose further restrictions on prisoners at various levels, from the poor-quality food provided about which the prisoners have complained, the deprivation or procrastination of necessary treatment, lack of immediate action to curb the spread of scabies and skin diseases among prisoners, to the lack of medicines in the prison pharmacy. New restrictions have been imposed on the prisoners' right to contact their families by increasing the cost of communication, reducing the number of allowed calls and duration of the call and other restrictions, according to the prisoners.
When prisoners meet their families, they cannot hug anyone or touch their children, they meet them behind a glass barrier, which means that the virus cannot be transmitted to prisoners through families. Besides, the prison administration says that it conducts a daily examination on all its staff and prison guards, so it is able to check the temperature of every individual entering to visit a prisoner. What is the excuse of the ministry of interior and the government to continue preventing prisoners from visits?
Political prisoners have sacrificed their freedom for the sake of all, and perhaps it is time for everyone to demand one of their most basic rights: to see their relatives and families. Prisoners deserve to see their loved ones, but they indeed deserve freedom as well.