Appeal for the safety of Bahraini prisoners

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Bahraini prisons are overcrowded, notably with political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. Prison authorities frequently subject detainees, often convicted following unfair trial, to harassment, abuse and the cruellest forms of torture, from pre-trial custody and interrogation through to after the often flawed legal process.

On Sunday 18 August 2019, hundreds of political prisoners in Bahrain’s Dry Dock and Jaw (Jau) prisons started a hunger strike in protest against inhumane treatment inside Bahraini prisons. As of 21 August, some commentators have estimated that there are around 600 prisoners taking part in the hunger strike.

Prisoners want to make the international community aware of the senseless suffering endured by prisoners.

We believe that most Bahraini prisoners are political prisoners and prisoners of conscience whom the authorities subject to harassment, abuse and torture. The trials they faced often lacked minimum fair trial standards. Officials have subjected prisoners to cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, including forms of humiliation. Hundreds have faced delayed or sometimes denied medical care. They have faced overcrowding and poor quality of food. The authorities have selectively banned religious practices.

We, the signatories of this petition, call on the Bahraini government and international community to take immediate action to improve prison conditions in Bahrain in order to save the prisoners.

We call on the Bahraini government to:

-      Immediately release all prisoners of conscience;

-      Release political prisoners convicted following unfair trials, who have no prospect of fair retrial;

-      End political trials that do not comply with minimum, international fair trial standards;

-      End torture and ill treatment in Bahrain’s prisons;

-      End the routine practice of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, used during pre-trial custody to extract confessions and after conviction in order to ‘punish’ prisoners;

-      Ensure that prompt and adequate medical attention is provided to anyone who requires it;

-      End overcrowding and degrading treatment that can accompany overcrowding;

-      Ensure that the manner of family visit adheres to international standards;

-      Allow religious practices practiced widely throughout the country, without harassing the prisoners or insulting their beliefs;

-      Allow students to continue their studies, whether in schools or universities, and provide them with all what they need to achieve this;

-      Treat all prisoners and their requests with respect and humanity, in order to foster a rights-respecting culture; and

-      Immediately release, on humanitarian grounds, children, women, elderly prisoners, and those with chronic and serious diseases.

Signatories:

-      Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR)

-      Bahrain Forum for Human Rights (BFHR)

-      Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)

-      European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights

-      Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR)

-      SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights