Hunger strike by inmates in Bahrain's Jaw Prison investigated

Hunger strike by inmates in Bahrains Jaw Prison investigated

Manama - Independent Ombudsman's Office conducts unannounced investigation into Jaw Prison hunger strike.

By Bna

Published: Sat 24 Aug 2019, 4:22 PM

Last updated: Sat 24 Aug 2019, 6:31 PM

The Office of the Independent Ombudsman has completed an investigation into a hunger strike recently declared by a number of inmates at Bahrain's Correction and Rehabilitation Centre Jaw Prison, Bna reported on Saturday.
Although no official complaints regarding prison conditions have been received by the Ombudman's Office, the investigation was initiated following reports circulated via social media.
The Ombudsman Office also investigated the actions taken by the management of the centre in dealing with the situation.
The Ombudsman's investigation centred around three areas: allegations of solitary confinement; allegations of denying freedom of religious practice; visitation rules.
The findings of the Ombudsman's investigation are as follows:
1. Allegations of solitary confinement:

.  The Ombudsman found that a hunger strike had begun in protest at the relocation of a small number of inmates within Jaw Prison. Relocation of prisoners is part of normal procedures relating to inmate distribution, classification and risk management.
.  The Ombudsman's Office found that relocations were in line with internationally recognised standards on prisoner segregation, and that transferred inmates were not in isolation or solitary confinement.
.  Transferred inmates continue to hold the same rights as other inmates, including visits, communication with other inmates, and outdoor time. They are not subject to individual or special punishment. They are subject to legal penalties applicable to any inmate who violates the Centre's regulations.

2. Allegations of denying freedom of religious practice

.  The Ombudsman found that certain inmates had requested permission to hold religious rituals collectively, gathering in large numbers in the wards, buildings, and the external yard. In this regard, the Centre reiterated the statement it made to members of the Prisoners and Detainees Rights Commission (PDRC) during their visit in 2015, in which they addressed the same repeated requests for the establishment of mass religious rituals with the following statement: "The freedom of inmates to engage in religious practices is fully guaranteed, but on limited occasions, requests have been made to allow inmates to gather in large numbers.
Although the Centre is sympathetic to these requests, the Centre is also required to maintain order and to respect the religious beliefs of others."
3. Allegations related to the Centre's visitation rules

.  Inmates have raised concerns regarding visitation procedures, particularly the presence of a glass barrier between inmates and visitors. It should be noted that the use of glass barriers in prisoner visitation centres is not unique to Bahrain, and that a number of other countries use glass barriers to ensure the safety of visitors, prison staff, and inmates.
.  The Ombudsman's investigation concluded that the Centre's use of a glass barrier was in line with the regulations of the Kingdom of Bahrain.
The Ombudsman investigation concludes that a small number of inmates at the Correction and Rehabilitation Centre - Jaw Prison, have engaged in a hunger strike in protest at the administrative and organisational rules and regulations that govern the Centre.
The Independent Ombudsman concluded that the hunger strike cannot be classified as torture, inhumane treatment or in contravention of the regulations governing the Centre or the rights of the inmates incarcerated there.
Therefore, the Ombudsman cannot file an official complaint, as the case does not constitute a culpable or illegal act.
The Centre's management has reiterated its commitment to the Ombudsman to monitoring the health of the inmates who have declared their hunger strike, and to provide all medical assistance where necessary.

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