2019 Roundup: Jaw Prison Witnesses Scabies, Food Poisoning, Denial of Treatment, Strike of Isolation Prisoners and Mysterious Death of Moroccan Prisoner

2020-01-08 - 9:14 م

Bahrain Mirror (2019 Roundup): Not a single month passes without hearing a painful story from Jaw Central Prison, from the poisoning of inmates due to contaminated water and spoiled food, cases of prisoners who suffer from negligence in receiving medical appointments and suitable treatment, continuous violations of prisoners' rights, stories of isolation and solitary confinement prisoners as well as the strikes that prisoners launch every once in a while in protest of maltreatment and deprivation of rights.

The dissolved Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society documented a number of violations, abuses and human rights crimes in Bahrain within the first week of December. The number of violations inside the Bahraini regime prisons reached 88. The 88 prison violations were as follows: 2 cases of torture, 10 cases of ill-treatment, and 76 cases of deprivation of treatment, including those suffering from chronic or incurable diseases. The violations were mainly in Jaw Prison, while two cases of deprivation of treatment and two cases of torture were monitored at the Dry Dock Prison.

Scabies Outbreak

The scabies condition outbreak worsened in Jaw prison due to poor health conditions, including pollution of the water tanks. The families of prisoners have been prevented from bringing the inmates fresh clothes, while they are forced to buy poor quality clothing from inside the prison, and prisoners are only allowed to be exposed to the sun for one hour which includes performing their prayers, contacting their families and washing their clothes.  Inmates complain that the yard is infested with insects and mice, and that sewage water passes through the yard. In December, Al-Wefaq recorded more than 70 scabies cases in building 12, cellblock 2, in Jaw Prison.

Poisoning Cases

Complaints were received from prisoners about poor quality food in Jaw Prison. On January 28, a large number of inmates in Building 13 were poisoned after lunch. Human rights activist Ibtisam Al-Saegh reported that the building was in a state of confusion due to the large number of prisoners affected.

"We have two options, either die of starvation or get food poisoned," activist Zeinab Al-Khamis quoted her brother Ali Al-Khamis as saying. "The meal we received today was inedible because of its bad smell. We go hungry and they serve us small quantities. Isn't it enough that the quality of the food is poor and the dishes are unwashed."

In the Month of Ramadan, Jaw Prison inmates suffered from food poisoning, which caused severe diarrhea cases among prisoners. The situation became catastrophic when the policemen didn't open the prison cell doors. There are more than 15 prisoners held in each cell. When demand increased for using the toilets due to the diarrhea they suffered, some prisoners had to relieve themselves in their clothes."

Treatment Denial

2019 began with prisoners Naji Fateel and Ali Haji continuing their hunger strike in protest of denial of treatment. Fateel, who is sentenced to 15 years in jail, talked through a leaked recording about his sufferings in Jaw Central prison. He said that he lost hearing in his right ear after he was subjected to torture and brutal beatings. He indicated that he is banned from treatment despite the health problems he suffers from due to torture. 

Ali Haji explained the damage done to his mental and physical health, the time he spent away from his family and the torture he suffered at the Criminal Investigation Directorate, noting that he had stopped a 26-day hunger strike after receiving a promise from the prison official, Turki Al-Jowder, to put an end to his suffering. He; however, stressed that those promises never materialized.

Family of inmate Mohammad Al-Singace also resorted to the Rescue Police to enhance the living conditions in his prison cell so it would be suitable for his health condition, since he suffers from a back disc problem, an injury resulting from torture during detention according to his documented testimony.

The health of Abduljalil al-Singace, 57, has deteriorated significantly in detention. Al-Singace has been experiencing severe chest pain, numbness in his fingers, and shaking in his left hand since August 22, 2019. Al-Singace's daughter said that he saw the prison doctor on August 28, for the first time since 2017. Earlier requests for medical attention for neck and back pain that his family said resulted from torture had been denied. Nor did prison officials authorize the white blood cell checkups he needs due to complications arising from a prolonged hunger strike in 2015, human rights watch reported in a detailed report.

Leader Hassan Mushaima, 71, is recovering from lymphoma and requires screening tests every six months. Mushaima's son said that the last screening occurred in August 2018, following the son's 46-day hunger strike in London. Mushaima did not receive the results until April 2019. Prison authorities promised to conduct another screening in August, Mushaima's family said, but had not as of October 2.

Jaw Prison authorities have also denied medical care to prisoners Elias Al-Mulla, 28, who has stage three colon cancer. His mother said that he is suffering from colon pain, pain under his ribs, nausea, and fatigue. His health deteriorated as the prison administration delayed his treatment, which led him to go on an open hunger strike that began on July 7, until he was taken to the hospital for treatment. His mother also launched a hunger strike the following day (July 8).

Ahmad Al-Arab, 27, has not been permitted to visit a doctor or receive medication since he tried to escape from prison in 2017. It was reported that Al-Arab suffers from severe pain in his leg and back, as well as several broken teeth, which he alleged were the result of torture.

Death of Moroccan Prisoner

The Moroccan Center for Human Rights announced on February 21 the death of a Moroccan prisoner in the Jaw Central Prison in Bahrain in mysterious circumstances after being mistreated. The Moroccan citizen is Najib Mahfouz Ibn Al Sharqi and he is in his 30s. His mother said in a video interview that her son was "tortured for a whole night by prison officials". Meanwhile the Moroccan Embassy in Bahrain said the prisoner died after a sudden brain hemorrhage, without referring to the reasons.

The Moroccan Center for Human Rights blamed prison administration for the death of the Moroccan national. It also said that the Bahraini judiciary is responsible for the absence of fair trial rules, during the trial of the deceased Najib Mahfouz, as well as the Moroccan Embassy in Bahrain, which did not do anything to save the Moroccan citizen from the danger of death in Bahrain's prisons. It called on the Moroccan Government to take the necessary measures and procedures to bring the body of the deceased to Morocco, and transfer it to forensic medicine in order to conduct a thorough and independent medical autopsy to determine the cause of death and arrange what should be done in light of the results of the medical autopsy.

The Bahraini Ministry of Interior issued on Sunday (February 24, 2019) a statement about the death of a Moroccan detainee in Jaw Central Prison which totally contradicted the narrative of the Moroccan Embassy in Bahrain, regarding the cause of death of the deceased. It said that Moroccan prisoner Najeeb Mahfouz Ibn Al-Sharqi was admitted to Salmaniya Medical Complex on February 17, 2019 due to suffering kidney pain and severe anaemia, and the department was informed about his death on February 21.

The Bahraini statement indicated that the prisoner had been harassed inside the prison, noting that the mother of the Moroccan prisoner had already complained to the reform and rehabilitation department that he was harassed by some inmates, adding that the complaint was answered and he was transferred to another building.

Hunger Strike of Isolation Prisoners

15 political prisoners started on Thursday (August 15, 2019) an open hunger strike after two full years of systematic isolation in Jaw Prison. Prisoner Hasan Al-Ghsara spoke on behalf of the inmates through a letter he leaked from the prison in which he complained about the tight security restrictions and discrimination against them, which is unlike how the rest of the prisoners are treated. He said that they are imprisoned along with other inmates on criminal charges who don't share the same language, religion, traditions or culture. He described the conditions as harsh and demanded to be held where they should be naturally with the other inmates.

The strike movement quickly expanded to nearly 600 political prisoners within the following days, amid the prison administration's disregard of the prisoners' strike, while some of the detainees on strike were denied visits and communication with their families. They were prevented from going to the canteen and from purchasing necessary hygiene products. Activist Zeinab Khamis said one week after the strike began, riot police raided one of the cell blocks in Building 16 and threatened to cut off water and air conditioning in the cells to force them to stop the strike.

A number of prisoners suspended their strike during the first week of September after receiving promises from the prison administration to meet some of their demands, in terms of allowing the isolation prisoners to be integrated with the rest for two hours during the commemoration of Ashura rituals, on the condition that their remaining demands will be met at a later time. 

Arabic Version