After a group of prisoners went on hunger strike, the NIHR visits the Correction and Rehabilitation Centre (Jaw Region) and meets with the strikers
Based on what the National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR) has monitored on the social media regarding a group of prisoners at the Correction and Rehabilitation Centre have been on hunger strike since Monday, August 7, 2023, and based upon the complaints received by the NIHR from the families of the inmates to check on the general conditions in the Centre as a result of this strike, the NIHR conducted an inspection visit to the Correction and Rehabilitation Centre in the Jaw Region on Thursday, August 10, 2023, to listen to prisoners’ requests and take note of their observations regarding the strike and its causes.
Based upon the NIHR’s commitment to full transparency and responsibility in conveying the human rights situation inside the places of detention to the families of the inmates and the public opinion, the NIHR notes that, during the visit, it met with a group of inmates representing the buildings that witnessed the strike, listened to them and learned their requests, which centred on the living conditions in the Centre, including requesting an increase in the time currently set for time out of cells, allowing an increase in the visit time, removing the glass barriers during those visits, considering the inmates’ right to legal solitude, adjusting the standards related to granting inmates private visits with their families, considering activating the right of inmates with long sentences to go out to participate in funeral ceremonies in the event of the death of one of their relatives, considering reducing the cost of telephone calls and increasing the contact numbers allocated to each inmate to more than (5) numbers currently in force, and working to expand the scope of those included in those numbers (noting that the right to contact the NIHR is guaranteed to all inmates without exception). The right to treatment and healthcare was also discussed, by improving the quality of the services provided, and working to find a mechanism to ensure the provision of medical services to the inmates in a shorter time frame than what is currently in force.
The prisoners’ representatives also raised their right to practice religious rites collectively in the mosque by holding congregational prayers, since what is currently practised, as they reported, is the performance of prayers in the rooms, and asked to consider returning some of the inmates to their original buildings after they were transferred to another building.
The NIHR states its full commitment to preserving the rights of all, especially inmates in the correction and rehabilitation centres, or pretrial detention centres, in order to ensure that they enjoy their rights stipulated in national legislation and the relevant international standards, as the NIHR will work with the concerned authorities by submitting a detailed report on this visit with all observations attached, as well as working to find the best ways and means to reach appropriate solutions to those requests in a balanced and fair manner.
The NIHR also notes that it is constantly informed of the conditions of inmates through its continuous field visits, and that the Ministry of Interior is working hard and permanently to develop the infrastructure for healthcare for inmates in general by transferring this service from the Ministry of Interior to the Department of Health Affairs in government hospitals, being the specialised entity with capabilities in providing healthcare and treatment. However, the process of the complete transfer entails many procedures and arrangements that may take some time to ensure efficient service. The NIHR will continue to follow-up on this issue to ensure that all the inmates enjoy their right to healthcare.
The NIHR also notes that the Centre’s clinic has taken the necessary measures to deal with the striking prisoners, according to the procedures followed in such cases, as it has been noted that nurses are available around the clock in each building in anticipation of any emergency in order to preserve the health and safety of the prisoners.
The NIHR affirms that it deals seriously and professionally with any complaints it receives regarding any violation that may occur of one of the basic rights of individuals, whether by coming to its headquarters in Seef district, or via the toll-free hotline (80001144), smartphone mobile application NIHR Bahrain, or the NIHR website www.nihr.org.bh.